This week we have a researcher in the library, Jennifer Fitzgerald from San Diego State University, who is looking at the papers of former Somerville history fellow Maude V Clarke (1892-1935). As this is the first time that these papers have been consulted since I’ve been archivist at Somerville, I thought I would take this opportunity to learn more about Maude Clarke. She was a tutor in history at Somerville from 1919 till her early death from cancer in 1935. A noted medievalist in a still largely male academic world, she published important and sometimes controversial work on fourteenth century England with a particular focus on constitutional history. We have eight of her publications in the College library but many more books that she gave the College during her sixteen year career at Somerville and on her death. One of her first pupils when she arrived at Somerville was Vera Brittain who based one of the characters in her first novel Dark Tide on Maude Clarke. (Brittain wrote the novel partially from her experiences at Somerville and the College at the time was not particularly pleased to be portrayed in fiction this way! We have subsequently forgiven her though and now have several copies of Dark Tide in our library collection!)
Maude Clarke was highly respected by colleagues and students for her charm, wisdom and clarity. She was particularly valued for her contributions to college governance and administration where she combined a sense of due process with a skilful tact and diplomacy.
Jennifer Fitzgerald is working on an edition of a novel co-written by Maude Clarke and Helen Waddell entitled ‘Discipline’ and we wish her well in this project.
Fitzgerald, J. (2005) ‘Perspehone come back from the dead: Maude Violet Clarke’ in J. Chance(ed) Women Medievalists and the Academy Madison: University of Wisconsin Press 396.9 A1
Woodward, E. L. (1937) ‘Memoir’, in M. V. Clarke, Fourteenth century studies (1937) Oxford:Clarendon Press 942.4 12
Brittain, V. (1923) The Dark Tide . London:Grant Richards 827.11 BRI 39