Manuscripts, oral history and pictures catalogue
Adlib Internet Server 5
We have released a preview of our new catalogue which is ready for your testing and feedback. Start exploring now ›


  • Title
    Delmer family further papers, 1861-1991
  • Creator
  • Call number
    MLMSS 5998
  • Level of description
  • Date

  • Type of material
  • Reference code
  • Physical Description
    1.7 metres of textual material (10 boxes) - computer printouts, with manuscript corrections, photocopy, typescript, typescript, with manuscript annotations and corrections, typescript (carbon), typescript (processed), printed, and printed (photocopy)
    Clippings - photocopy

    Tasmanian-born F. S. (Frederic Sefton) Delmer (1864-1931) was a gifted linguist and teacher who lived in Europe from the turn of the century and left his mark on the instruction of English literature in Germany. He won a series of honours in Modern Languages at Melbourne University, but failed to graduate. A travelling scholarship to Europe in 1894 enabled him to pursue further study in Italy and Germany. Delmer's academic brilliance brought him to the attention of the German scholar Herman Grimm, who became his mentor. He returned to Australia in 1896 and became a schoolmaster at Yarrawonga, Victoria. From 1897 to 1899 Delmer was French Master at South Melbourne College, where he met on the staff his future wife, Isabella Mabel Hook. They married in London in 1901 and had two children, Denis (Tom) Sefton (1904-1979) and Margaret Mabel Sefton (1905-1990). In 1900 Delmer was appointed Lector in the English Department at the University of Konigsberg in East Prussia. Next year he was promoted to the Friedrich Wilhelm University, Berlin. In 1905 he translated into English Gustav Frenssen's best-selling novel, Jorn Uhl. In 1910 Delmer's book, English Literature from Beowulf to Bernard Shaw, was published in Berlin, and is still in print.

    The outbreak of World War I largely ended Delmer's academic career. He declined to apply for German naturalisation and as an alien, suspected of being a spy, was interned at Ruhleben. He boosted morale among the predominantly British internees, founding the camp's Literary and Debating Society. Released in 1915, teaching positions were blocked to him. In 1917 he was repatriated to England, then he returned to the Continent as a correspondent for the London Daily Mail. Isabella Mabel Delmer stayed in London working as an Examiner in the Postal Censorship at the War Office from 1917 to 1919.

    In the early 1920s Delmer worked as an interpreter in German, French and Italian for the Naval Inter-Allied Commission of Control based in Berlin. At the same time his journalism flourished and his English textbooks went into multiple editions, including foreign translations. During the last decade of his life he settled in Italy. He lived in Rapallo, where he met and wrote about one of its illustrious denizens, the American writer Ezra Pound. Delmer's wife Isabella Mabel died in London in 1938; she was cremated and her ashes buried in Frederick's grave in Rapallo.

    Margaret Mabel Sefton Delmer was born in Berlin and first came to Australia in 1909-1910 to visit her grandparents. She returned to settle here in 1936. In 1985 she donated to the Art Gallery of New South Wales a stupendous collection of European master prints ranging from the 16th to the 19th century and German prints of early this century, which had been garnered by her father. In 1986 she donated to the State Library of New South Wales the first consignment of Delmer family papers, which she had previously allowed John Fletcher, then Lecturer in German at Sydney University, to consult for his biography of her father, published in 1991. In the same year John Fletcher passed on to the Library the present consignment, bequeathed by Margaret Delmer, which he chiefly arranged and jointly annotated with her.
  • Scope and Content
    1. Corrected printout of the book, Frederick Sefton Delmer: From Herman Grimm and Arthur Streeton to Ezra Pound (1991) by John Fletcher, and Files: A-D, 1892-1991, date unknown, concerning the Delmer family, arranged by John Fletcher
    2. Files: D, 1861-198-, concerning the Delmer family, arranged by John Fletcher
    3. Files: D-J, 1878-1990, concerning the Delmer family, arranged by John Fletcher
    4. Files: K-P, 1892-1990, concerning the Delmer family, arranged by John Fletcher
    5. Files: P-R, 1900-1986, concerning the Delmer family, arranged by John Fletcher
    6. Files: S-Z, 1886-1990, followed by out-of-sequence files, concerning the Delmer family, and microfilm of German archival material concerning F. S. Delmer, arranged and compiled by John Fletcher
    7. Notebooks of F. S. Delmer, 1895-1931
    8. Printed works by F. S. Delmer, 1904-1951
    9. Printed works of others collected by F. S. Delmer, 1901-1907, 1930
  • System of arrangement
    This collection comprises 9 record series. You may navigate to a more detailed description of each series from this record.
  • Language
  • Source
    Presented by Margaret Mabel Sefton Delmer via John Fletcher in 1991
  • Access Conditions

    This material is held offsite and is usually available after 4pm on the next business day. Please submit your request through Ask a Librarian
  • General note

    The initial consignment of Delmer family papers was received in 1986-1987 and is located at ML MSS 4868, a listing of which is available in Leaf Catalogue 2 in the Mitchell Library Reading Room.
    State Library of New South Wales collection of World War I papers
  • Subject
  • Browse collection hierarchy
  • Manuscript Index
  • A
  • B
  • C
  • D
  • E
  • F
  • G
  • H
  • I
  • J
  • K
  • L
  • M
  • N
  • O
  • P
  • Q
  • R
  • S
  • T
  • U
  • V
  • W
  • X
  • Y
  • Z

Share this result by email