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THE ARCHIVE OF ARTHUR WALEY (1889-1966)
A key figure in the transmission of the classical texts of Chinese literature to an English-speaking readership, Arthur Waley taught himself Chinese and Japanese only after taking the post of Assistant Keeper of Oriental Prints and Manuscripts at the British Museum in 1913 (a post which he retained until 1929). His first privately-printed translations of Chinese poems appeared as early as 1916, and he reached a broader readership with the collection A Hundred and Seventy Chinese Poems (1918). A steady flow of translations from the Chinese and Japanese were to follow over the remainder of his life, his reach eventually extending from classical poetry to philosophy, biography and vernacular literature; his best-known works include the Genji Monogatari of Murasaki Shikibu (published 1925-1933) and Monkey (1942). His substantial correspondence with orientalists and sinologists across the world is a key source for the development of these disciplines in the first half of the 20th Century.
Waley was a Bloomsbury resident for more than 40 years, and his archive includes correspondence with the great majority of those now identified with the Bloomsbury Group, as well as the admissions book for the short-lived Omega Club, established by Roger Fry as a commercial forum for the group. An important presence in the archive is that of his partner Beryl de Zoete, the writer on the dance, with whom he lived, and maintained a rich correspondence, from 1918 until her death in 1962; shortly before his death four years later, he married Alison Robinson, the degree of whose relationship with him since their meeting in 1929 is hinted at in his eliptical letters to her.
A smaller group of Arthur Waley-Beryl de Zoete papers is held by Rutgers University.