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Walter Baldwin Spencer, after he moved to Melbourne, Victoria in Australia in 1887, met Lorimer Fison and Alfred William Howitt (possibly with a letter of introduction from Edward Burnett Tylor?). There are a set of letters from Fison to Spencer in Box 1 of the Spencer papers at the PRM ms collections, together with some letters from Spencer to Fison. These have all been arranged in date order on this page, see here for Part 1 of these letters from 1893 to 1899. see Part 2 of the correspondence here which covers letters from 1900 , see also here for undateable letters from the correspondence. Note that the archival order of the Fison correspondence is not (mostly) chronological, I have therefore arranged the letters below in chronological order, but they are not now in number order. Note also that the notes to the letters were added by the transcriber.

N.B. These letters cannot be dated from internal evidence (to date). The notes are added by the transcriber

Find scans of the original letters here.


Fison to Spencer letter 4


My dear Spencer

I have been for a month on the broad of my back, with occasional visits to my study of late. At first I had to keep strictly to my bed, & write with lead pencil, as I am writing here, on scraps of paper.

I am very much better, ribs seem to have behaved themselves admirably, but the wound on my leg is still troublesome, & I have to give it all the rest I can. I am bandaged up like a mummy, but the Egyptians have the advantage over me that his bandages don't make him itch.

I have to go into town on Thursday. It is kind of you to propose visiting me, & it wd be pleasant to see your face; but I beg that you will not give yourself the trouble of coming all this way, interrupting the good work you are doing.

Kind regards

Yours ever

L. Fison


Fison to Spencer letter 7

My dear Spencer

I am desolated. Every night I find is full of work that I expected other people would be engaged to do. Anathema! Mrs Fison is answering Mrs Spencer's kind letter. I only put this scrawl in just to say how sorry I am that we cannot come. I have to get a report into the post tonight, & am writing for dear life, so I must keep all the rest till I see you on your return covered with well worn glory. [1]

With kindest regards

Yours sincerely

Lorimer Fison


[1] It is just possible that Fison is referring to Spencer's visit to England in 1898, when he was wondering whether to apply for the Linacre professorship recently left by E Ray Lankester. If I am right then this letter will date to around September or October 1898, Spencer left in late October on the Ville de la Ciotat


Transcribed AP August 2013

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Supported by the John Fell OUP Research Fund


(c) 2012 Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford