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Archive of Lily Dougall


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The collection contains: personal papers and correspondence of Lily Dougall; literary manuscripts; literary contracts, correspondence with publishers, royalty statements, reviews and press cuttings; and printed material.


  • Creation: 1869-1926


6.86 Linear metres (18 boxes)

Language of Materials

  • English
  • French
  • Italian

Preferred Citation

Oxford, Bodleian Libraries [followed by shelfmark and folio or page reference, e.g. MS. 18516/1].

Please see our help page for further guidance on citing archives and manuscripts.

Full range of shelfmarks:

MSS. 18516/1-18

Collection ID (for staff)

CMD ID 18516


Papers of Lily Dougall (1858-1923), novelist and religious author, 1869-1926.

Biographical / Historical

Lily Dougall, British Canadian novelist and religious author, was born in Montreal, Canada on 16 April 1858, one of several siblings. Her father, John Dougall, was a Scottish immigrant who founded the evangelical newspaper Montreal Witness. Lily's mother, Elizabeth Redpath (d.1883), was the daughter of John Redpath (1796-1869), an immigrant from Berwickshire who became a wealthy Canadian businessman, sugar magnate, and philanthropist. In 1870, the Dougalls moved to New York to found the New York Witness but the panic of 1873 and subsequent failure of the paper led to both financial and emotional strain for the family.

In 1880, Lily went to stay with her aunt, Jane Redpath (d.1897), in Edinburgh and attended lectures on English Literature and Moral Philosophy, earning a 'higher certificate' from the Edinburgh Ladies Educational Association (at the time, women were not able to be admitted to the University of Edinburgh). After the death of her mother in 1883, Lily returned to Edinburgh and studied at the University of St Andrews via a correspondence course, becoming an LLA (lady literate in arts) in 1887.

Dougall's first novel, Beggars All, was well-received upon its publication in 1891. This was followed by nine more novels, including What Necessity Knows (1893), The Mermaid (1895), The Madonna of a Day (1895) and The Zeit-Geist (1895). For her historical novel, The Mormon Prophet (1898), Dougall researched the history of the Mormons in the archives at Salt Lake City, Utah. Dougall's novels were typically moralistic in tone, the strong female lead usually having to overcome an often bizarre moral dilemma. Dougall also wrote short stories for newspapers and magazines; her short story collection, A Dozen Ways of Love, was published in 1897.

In 1900, Dougall anonymously published her influential and successful non-fiction work, Pro Christo et Ecclesia. This was followed by further works on religion, including Absente Reo in 1910 and The Practice of Christianity in 1913, which were also published anonymously and called for church reform and social change.

Dougall's long-term companion was Mary Sophia 'Sophie' Earp (c.1865-1928), an early graduate of Newnham College, Cambridge. Having originally settled in Exmouth upon Dougall's return to England in 1903, they moved to Cutts End in Cumnor near Oxford in 1911. Dougall was part of the Anglican modernist movement and the house in Cumnor soon became the setting of many meetings of the 'Cumnor Group' of clerics, academics, and writers, including Canon Burnett Hillman Streeter (1874-1937) of Queen's College, Oxford and Arthur Clutton-Brock (1868-1924). Alongside writing for various journals and newspapers, Dougall collaborated with Streeter and others on 'group-books' including Immortality (1917). Dougall also became involved with the Anglican Fellowship, The Guild of Health and the Student Christian Movement. In 1919, she published a volume of light verse with Gilbert Sheldon entitled Arcades Ambo.

Dougall died on 9 October 1923. After her death, Sophie and Canon Streeter hoped to compile a memoir of Dougall's life, but this was never completed. Sophie died in 1928 and was buried alongside Dougall in the graveyard of St Michael's Church, Cumnor.

Custodial History

These papers were originally collated together after the death of Lily Dougall in 1923 by her companion Mary Sophie Earp for a planned memoir of Dougall by Earp and Canon Burnett Hillman Streeter. The memoir, however, was never published: Earp died in 1928 and Canon Streeter was killed in an air crash in 1936. After Streeter's death, many of his possessions went to his sister, Mrs Robin (Ida M.) Flower. Mrs Flower died in 1959 and the papers came into the possession of her daughter, Sile, and then into the possession of Sile's daughter, Jean Mitchell.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Given to the Bodleian Library in August 1978 by Charles and Jean Mitchell.

Related Materials

Library and Archives Canada

  1. Dougall Family Collection, 1837-1951.

Bodleian Libraries

  1. MS. Eng. c. 5286, fol. 167 - Letter from Lily Dougall to Edward John Thompson, 29 Oct 1919.
  2. MS. Eng. misc. d. 1115, fol. 90r - A brief account of Lily Dougall's funeral on 13 Oct 1923 in the journal of C.C.J. Webb.


  • Lily Dougall, God's Way with Man: An Exploration of the Method of the Divine Working Suggested by the Facts of History and Science (London, 1924), with a biographical note by Canon B.H. Streeter, p.11-23.
  • Joanna Dean, Religious Experience and the New Woman: The Life of Lily Dougall (Bloomington, 2007).
Catalogue of the Archive of Lily Dougall CMD ID 18516
Rachael Marsay and Chantale Davies
Language of description
Script of description
Edition statement
First edition.

Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom