Kathryn Hulme Papers

Selections from the papers of Kathryn Hulme, novelist and relief worker.

The writer Kathryn Hulme made significant contributions to the humanitarian efforts in Europe after World War II as an administrator with the United Nations Relief and Refugee Agency (UNRRA); she wrote a number of books exploring life during and after the war, including The Wild Place (1953). While she was working with displaced persons in Europe, Hulme met Marie-Louise Habets, who would later become Hulme’s inspiration for The Nun’s Story (1956), a fictionalization of the former nun’s life. A tremendous critical and popular success, The Nun’s Story was adapted into a Hollywood film starring Audrey Hepburn in 1959. Though she was best known during her lifetime for this remarkably successful book, Hulme was more than a one-novel writer; she was the author of nine well-received books of fiction and nonfiction, some of which earned national awards and recognition. For a time, Hulme considered writing her own autobiography. In a letter to her editor Beatrice Baumgarten Cozzens on April 24, 1961, Hulme noted one motivation for the project, “…a half century of a woman’s life in a century when women like me, childless, husbandless, outside the conforming norm, might, just might be news of a sort.”

History of the Collection

Approximately half of the material in the present collection was purchased from Hulme in 1978 on the Library Associates fund. The rest of the papers were donated by Marie-Louise Habets, Hulme’s companion of many years, in 1981.

The Collection

The Kathryn Hulme Papers span the dates 1846-1981 but the bulk of the material dates from the years 1945-81. The collection has six series. Series I, Writings, contains manuscripts of both published and unpublished works, as well as related materials. ProfessionalCorrespondence, Series II, fills nine boxes and is primarily composed of Hulme’s correspondence with her publishers and her literary agents. Series III, Professional Correspondence, consists of correspondence with friends and a few relatives. Series IV, Family Papers, contains personal papers of Hulme and several family members, and Photographs, Series V, fills nineteen boxes. Currently, only a portion of the Kathryn Hulme Papers are available online.