Guide to the Ada Leverson Letters from Sitwells
ca. 1920-1935

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Overview of the Collection

Creator: Leverson, Ada
Title: Ada Leverson Letters from Sitwells
Dates: ca. 1920-1935 ( inclusive )
Quantity: 2 containers. (.25 linear feet of shelf space.) (167 items.)
Collection Number: Cage 4669
Summary: Postcards and letters from Edith, Osbert and Sacherevell Sitwell chiefly about literary matters and mutual friends. Includes one poem by Osbert Sitwell, "Aux Bords de la Mer." Most salutations are to "Sphinx."
Repository: Washington State University Libraries, Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections.
Contact Information: Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections
100 Dairy Road
Terrell Library 5610
Pullman WA
Telephone: 509-335-6691
Languages: Collection materials are in English 
Sponsor: Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Biographical Note

Ada Leverson, 1859-1936, was an English novelist who belonged to London's world of wealth and fashion. Her six novels were published between 1907 and 1916; they belong to Edwardian era.

She married early, becoming Mrs. Ernest Leverson. She had a son who died when a small boy. Her one daughter, Violet, married Guy Windham and has written a biography of her mother, The Sphinx and Her Circle.

She was a friend of the artists and writers of her time from Oscar Wilde to the Sitwells. It was Wilde who gave her the nickname "Sphinx". This is the title of one of Oscar Wilde's poems, "The Sphinx", that Ada parodied. From then on Oscar always called her "Sphinx", and the name stuck.

In her later years, she spent time abroad, particularly in Italy, where she passed the time in the company of the Sitwells. By this time, she had grown distressingly deaf.

In 1935 while returning to London from Florence, she was struck down by illness. She died in 1936 at the age of 71.

Content Description

Postcards and letters (some with envelopes) from the Sitwells, primarily Edith and Osbert, about literary matters and mutual friends and enemies. Most of the letters are addressed to "Sphinx", a nickname given to Ada Leverson by Oscar Wilde. Also includes one clipping of a poem by Osbert Sitwell, Aux Bords de la Mar.

Administrative Information

Arrangement :

The papers are in the order that they came in from the seller. They could not be put into chronological order by date because, for the most part, there were no dates on the letters, and the dates could not be ascertained from the contents of the letters.

Acquisition Information :  

The letters from the Sitwells to Ada Leverson were purchased by the Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections of Washington State University Libraries in 1987 from George Robert Minkoff, Inc. with a group of Sitwell letters. The Leverson letters were formed into a seperate collection.

Related Materials :  

Additional Sitwell manuscript holdings at Washington State University Libraries are included in:

Cage 9 Thomas Balston - Papers of the Sitwells, 1924-1960. This collection includes letters received from the Sitwells and manuscripts of some of their works.

Cage 165 Siegfried Sassoon - Papers of the Sitwells, 1918-1957. Contains letters, clippings, postcards and pamphlets from the Sitwells.

Cage 531 Edith, Osbert, and Sacheverell Sitwell, 1917-1972

Cage 534 Nina Hamnett - Papers, 1914-1953. A few letters from Sacheverell Sitwell.

Cage 4793 Correspondence from Edith Sitwell to Geoffrey Singleton, 1922-1964. 25 items.

Detailed Description of the Collection

The following section contains a detailed listing of the materials in the collection.


This collection is indexed under the following headings in the online catalog. Researchers desiring materials about related topics, persons, or places should search the catalog using these headings.

  • Personal Names :
  • Leverson, Ada --Archives  ( creator)
  • Leverson, Ada.--Correspondence
  • Sitwell, Edith, Dame, 1887-1964
  • Sitwell, Edith, Dame, 1887-1964 -- Correspondence
  • Sitwell, Osbert, 1892-1969
  • Sitwell, Osbert, 1892-1969--Correspondence
  • Sitwell, Sacheverell, 1897-
  • Sitwell, Sacheverell, 1897---Correspondence
    • Occupations :
    • Authors, English--20th century--Correspondence

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