RepositorySpecial Collections Archives (GB 0029)
Ref NoEUL MS 82
Extent1 box
TitleLiterary and personal papers of Frances Bellerby
DescriptionLetters and poems, all in manuscript, totalling 375 folios, from Frances Bellerby at her home at Goveton near Kingsbridge to Bill Cotterell, and his friend Edith, of Wolverhampton, 1973-1975, written at about fortnightly intervals. There are also several neat copies of Frances Bellerby's poems attached to, or within, letters.
Admin HistoryMary Eirene Frances Bellerby (1899-1975), poet (nee Parker), was born in Bristol on 29 August 1899. Her father, F Talbot Parker, was a clergyman with a devotion to 'the poor'. Her mother, Marion Eirene Thomas, was a trained nurse. The sole brother of Frances volunteered and was killed in the First World War. From the age of twenty she worked as a teacher, first at a school and later as a private tutor to the Cecil Fry family, and at about the same time began writing articles for 'The Bristol Times and Mirror'. In 1925 she first met her future husband, John Rotherford Bellerby, a Fellow of Caius College Cambridge, whom she married in December 1929. A socialist economist, he set up an organisation called The Neighbours, which required its members to live on the national average income. The result was 'virtual ostracism' for married women, such as Mrs Bellerby. Six months later she had a fall in which she badly damaged her spine. This coloured her outlook for the remainder of her life, having been a very athletic person in her youth. In 1932 she published a novel, 'Shadowy Bricks', which describes her and her husband's vision of education. Just before the book appeared, her mother committed suicide.

In 1934, having written no poems since her marriage, she temporarily separated from her husband. They continued to live together on and off for another eight years before parting in 1942, when her husband became a Lecturer in Economics at Glasgow University; Frances started writing poetry again at this point. At her Cornish cottage, Plash Mill, she wrote in earnest, publishing poetry, short stories and a novel, 'Hath the Rain a Father'. In 1950 she was diagnosed as having breast cancer and was given a year to live. In 1954, having spent three-and-a-half unhappy and artistically sterile years in a cottage at Clearbrook, Devon, she bought a semi-detached cottage called Upsteps at Goveton, near Kingsbridge, Devon, where she remained for the rest of her life, battling against insanity, loss and illness, and writing new poems, most of which were published by The Enitharmon Press.
Access StatusOpen
Related MaterialFurther Bellerby manuscripts are contained within the Charles Causley Papers (EUL MS 50), EUL MS 331 and EUL MS 333. Other papers relating to Frances Bellerby are held at Bath Record Office and the Brotherton Library, Leeds.
Access ConditionsUsual EUL arrangements apply.
ArrangementThe majority of the letters were arranged in chronological order and numbered by Bill Cotterell's brother, Tom; these numbers are given in the AltRef field. This arrangement has been maintained. With the exceptions noted in the catalogue, all letters are from Frances to Bill.
Creator_NameBellerby; Frances (1899-1975); poet
Mgt_GroupLiterary papers
DS/UK/57Bellerby (nee Parker); Mary Eirene Frances (1899-1975); poet1899-1975
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