Archival Collections
Rare Book & Manuscript Library

David Roth Martyr Worthy collection of Frederick William Rolfe papers, 1892-1973 

Roth, David. collector
Phys. Desc: 
3 linear feet (3 linear feet 7 boxes)
Call Number: 
Rare Book & Manuscript Library
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Biographical Note

David Roth was a book collector who lived in the English village of Martyr Worthy, Hampshire. Frederick William Rolfe, whose pen name was Baron Corvo, authored numerous books and stories. Amongst the most famous are the Toto stories, HADRIAN THE SEVENTH, called by some the greatest ecclesiastical novel ever to be written, and the masterpiece THE DESIRE AND PURSUIT OF THE WHOLE. To say that Rolfe was at times eccentric, acerbic and petulant is understatement, but he was also an excellent story teller, conversationalist and amateur athlete. His life of trials and tribulations ended in 1913, when he died in Venice at the age of 53.

Scope and Contents

Contains correspondence, letterbook, manuscripts, typescripts, documents, photographs, microfilm, and other printed materials by and about Frederick William Rolfe"Baron Corvo" (1860-1913). This collection includes Rolfe's letters to Fr. C. S. Beauclerk, S.J. written while they both lived in Holywell, to H. C. Bainbridge and Grant Richards while Rolfe lived in London, and to others. There are typescript copies of his letters to R. M. Dawkins, Charles Masson Fox, and J. J. Walsh. In the letterbooks of 1909-1910, Rolfe kept copies of his letters sent from Venice to many recipients. There are also 33 manuscripts by Rolfe, including parts of his books, IN HIS OWN IMAGE ("More Stories Toto Told Me"), HUBERT'S ARTHUR, and AMICO DI SANDRO, as well as short stories, essays, and poems. Finally, there are sections of two tree trunks, with carvings by Rolfe, from Seaton House, Aberdeen where he was a tutor for the Hay family. The collection also contains 19 letters from Rolfe collector A. J. A. Symons to Grant Richards, along with letters received by Symons in preparing his 1934 study of Rolfe, THE QUEST FOR CORVO. Several manuscripts and documents by Rolfe's contemporaries and collectors concern Rolfe. There are also periodical articles, booksellers' catalogs, and other printed materials by and about Rolfe. The collection was given the name Martyr Worthy Collection of Frederick William Rolfe by its assembler, David Roth, after the English village of Martyr Worthy in which Roth lived.