Skip to main content
COLLECTION Identifier: MS Thr 695

Ivor Novello papers


Chiefly letters to Welsh actor and composer Ivor Novello from friends and fans; also contains correspondence concerning Novello or his estate, to or from Sir Edward Marsh, Christopher Hassall, Fred Allen, and others.


  • Creation: 1911-1956

Language of Materials

Collection materials are primarily in English, with one item in French.

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on physical access to this material.

This collection is not housed at the Houghton Library but is shelved offsite at the Harvard Depository. Retrieval requires advance notice. Readers should check with Houghton Public Services staff to determine what material is offsite and retrieval policies and times.


.5 linear feet (1 box)

The papers consist mostly of manuscript and typescript letters, with some manuscript and typescript compositions; including two letters in the hand of Ivor Novello. The bulk of the letters are to Ivor Novello from friends and fans, especially fellow theater performers, concerning Novello's shows and social events. The correspondence of Edward Marsh, Novello's long-time patron, includes letters concerning Novello's assignment to do performance propaganda for England in Stockholm and general personal letters which often mention Novello. Christopher Hassall's correspondence is chiefly about his inheritance from the Novello estate and royalties on work created with Novello. The compositions are largely about Novello, except for one piece, in French, about John Hassall. The papers also include further material about Novello's estate, including a list of borrowed artwork and notes from a meeting of trustees.

Biographical / Historical

Ivor Novello (1893-1951) was born in Cardiff, Wales, to David Davies and Clare Novello Davies, a vocal teacher. Musically active as a child, he learned songs from his mother’s many famous clients and showed an early talent for writing songs, having his first work published at age 15. He moved to London in 1913, and quickly became a favorite of Sir Edward Marsh, a well-known patron of the arts. He spent the first several years of his career working as a composer, but eventually added acting, both stage and film, to his repertoire. In the 1930s he composed and wrote a number of successful musicals, often partnering with Christopher Hassall. His work was immensely popular and his circle of friends included many famous film and stage actors, managers, and producers. Novello died at the age of 58.


Arranged into the following series:

  1. I. Correspondence.
  2. II. Correspondence of others.
  3. III. Compositions.
  4. IV. Compositions of others.
  5. V. Other materials.

Physical Location

Harvard Depository

Immediate Source of Acquisition

2003MT-170. Purchase; received: 1998.

General note

This collection is shelved offsite at the Harvard Depository. See access restrictions below for additional information.

Processing Information

Processed by: Susan Wyssen

Novello, Ivor, 1893-1951. Ivor Novello papers, 1911-1956: Guide.
Houghton Library, Harvard College Library
Description rules
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Houghton Library Repository

Houghton Library is Harvard College's principal repository for rare books and manuscripts, archives, and more. Houghton Library's collections represent the scope of human experience from ancient Egypt to twenty-first century Cambridge. With strengths primarily in North American and European history, literature, and culture, collections range in media from printed books and handwritten manuscripts to maps, drawings and paintings, prints, posters, photographs, film and audio recordings, and digital media, as well as costumes, theater props, and a wide range of other objects. Houghton Library has historically focused on collecting the written record of European and Eurocentric North American culture, yet it holds a large and diverse number of primary sources valuable for research on the languages, culture and history of indigenous peoples of the Americas, Africa, Asia and Oceania.

Houghton Library’s Reading Room is free and open to all who wish to use the library’s collections.

Harvard Yard
Harvard University
Cambridge MA 02138 USA
(617) 495-2440