Theodora Bosanquet

Theodora Bosanquet, born on the Isle of Wight in 1881, and living till the age of 80, when she died in Kensington, lists herself in the 1911 census as an indexer of Encyclopedia Britannica. But at that time, she had a more or less full-time role as the amanuensis of the novelist of Henry James, for whom she worked from 1907 until his death in 1916 – typing what he spoke, indeed typing practically his last words. Since James didn’t offer his amanuensis hints on punctuation, it must have been tough work. Eight years after James’ death, Bosanquet, who never married, wrote Henry James At Work – which you can read and/or download here. She wrote two or three further books, including studies of Paul Valery and Harriet Martineau, the last in 1933. She was Executive Secretary of the International Federation of University Women from 1920 to 1035. and an active suffragist. From 1935 to 1958 she was literary editor, and later the director of Time and Tide. From 1933 to 1958, she lived with Lady Rhonnda, Time and Tide‘s owner. (Thanks to Deirdre Toomey for this information.)

Three novels have fictionalised her in the twenty-first century: Michiel Heyns’s The Typewriter’s Tale (2005), Cynthia Ozick’s “Dictation” (2008) and David Lodge’s Author, Author (2004).


5 thoughts on “Theodora Bosanquet

  1. She was also probably a lesbian and lived with Lady Rhondda (owner of Time and Tide) for a long time.

  2. Hello .My name is Stephen Couper , from NSW Australia.I have a couple of photo albums and drawings from Theodora Bosanquets family on holiday etc Also ,what appears to be the original photo of Bosanquet that appears on most publications about her. Actually there is loads of stuff. I have had it all for a few years and its only going to get eaten by insects .I was wondering if it could be of any use ,or even worth something , who knows ??…just wondering . If u are interested ,send me an email and see what we can do .

    • The Houghton Library at Harvard has the Theodora Bosanquet Papers (See the finding aid: I was there, working in the papers yesterday. I should think the Houghton might be very interested in what you have. You might get in touch with Heather Cole:, Assistant Curator of Modern Books & Manuscripts &
      Heather Cole
      Curator of the Theodore Roosevelt Collection
      Houghton Library, Harvard University
      Cambridge, MA 02138

      I am finishing up a book, THE CONSTANT LISTENER, by my childhood friend, Susan Herron Sibbet, forthcoming from Ohio University Press. THE CONSTANT LISTENER is an “imagined memoir” in the voice of Bosanquet, centering on her time with Henry James.

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