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Libraries & Collections > MRBR > Exhibitions > Online Exhibitions > A Pen and a Press of Her Own

Frances Hooper Collection of Virginia Woolf
Mortimer Rare Book Room, Smith College

Frances HooperFrances Hooper (1892-1986) was a journalist and advertising executive in Chicago. She was a founding member of the Virginia Woolf Society, a fellow of the Pierpont Morgan Library, and a member of the Hroswitha Club, an exclusive group of American women book collectors.

Frances Hooper earned her bachelor’s degree in English at Smith College in 1914. Her mentors included English professor Mary Augusta Jordan and Smith College librarian, Josephine A. Clark, who inspired Hooper to become a collector.

Frances Hooper holding Blackie, 1985.

Under the tutelage of the bookseller Walter M. Hill, Hooper assembled important literary collections, including books and manuscripts by Virginia Woolf. Her Virginia Woolf collection includes nearly 200 letters and manuscripts by Virginia Woolf as well as 250 Hogarth Press publications, proof copies, and early editions. Some association copies in the collection were previously owned by Lytton Strachey, Hugh Walpole, and Crosby Gaige.

Frances Hooper purchased the bulk of her collection between 1943 and 1980 from various booksellers, including the firm of Hamill & Barker. Some manuscripts were acquired directly from Leonard Woolf. Over a lifetime of collecting, Frances Hooper developed a special interest in Virginia Woolf’s style as an essayist, and her acquisition of manuscript material reflects this interest.

In 1985, Hooper donated the original correspondence between Virginia Woolf and Lytton Strachey (140 letters) to Smith College. The rest of her Virginia Woolf Collection was presented by the Estate of Frances Hooper to Smith College in 1986. Frances Hooper hoped that her collection would be used to help teach students how to write. Highlights from the collection are on display.

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