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William Hobart Royce Papers

An inventory of his papers at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: EL
Date: Mar 1974

Biographical History

William Hobart Royce (1878-1963) was an American author, bibliographer, book collector, and founder of the Balzac Society of America.

Born on March 20, 1878, in Springfield, Massachusetts, Royce completed his formal education by graduating from the Springfield High School in 1897. Later he would write that his "only university has been the New York Public Library."

After some bookstore experience in Springfield, Royce entered the book trade in New York City, spending twelve years with the book department of the American News Company and seven years with the Lexington Book Shop. In 1917 he joined the Gabriel Wells rare book firm, for which he was manager for over 30 years. Wells and Royce shared a deep interest in Balzac (it was Wells who saved Balzac's house at Passy from destruction), and during this time the firm became the center of the sale of Balzaciana. Royce himself assembled a major collection of Balzac material. His Balzac library was sold and his papers were donated by his daughters Eva Allen Royce and Abbie Anna Royce to Syracuse University's Special Collections Research Center.

Royce's published works ran to over a dozen titles. His books on Balzac include Balzac, Immortal (1926), A Balzac Bibliography (1929), Indexes to A Balzac Bibliography (1930), and Balzac as He Should Be Read (1946). Royce published over a half dozen volumes of his own verse; he wrote verse also under the pen names Willie Penmore and Cassandra.

In 1940 Royce founded The Balzac Society of America. For over two decades he served as its president and edited its Bulletin. In recognition of his contributions to Balzac bibliography and collecting, Royce was awarded the Cross of the Legion of Honor in 1935 and was made an honorary citizen of Issoudun, the French provincial town which is the setting of La Rabouilleuse.

Royce was married in 1908 to Eda Maria Wallin. They had two daughters, Eva Allen Royce and Abbie Anna Royce, M.D. He died on 28 Jan 1963.

Royce was the subject of a "Profile" article in The New Yorker, Apr 1, 1933, pp. 18-21. For further biographical and anecdotal material, see Life, 24 Feb 1947, pp. 19-20, 22; and "Brooklyn Balzac" by Stefan Zweig in Who, vol. 1, no. 3 (Jun 1941), p. 48.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The William Hobart Royce Papers, 1834-1963, contain correspondence, autograph (handwritten) material, Balzaciana, material related to the American Balzac Society, printed material, writings, and memorabilia. Royce's arrangement of the material has been preserved. Royce maintained detailed records of his collection and numbered many of the items. These numbers whenever extant are retained in the following inventory.

Correspondence, 1901-1962, is international in scope, largely with book dealers, collectors and scholars, often Balzac specialists. The bulk of the letters date from the years 1927 to 1957. Principal correspondents include Marcel Bouteron, curator of the Lovenjoul Collection at the Chateau de Chantilly; Edwin Preston Dargan (the "Vautrin" of the correspondence, who, like other of Royce's correspondents, adopted a Balzacian pen name), professor of French literature at the University of Chicago and editor of the University of Chicago Studies in Balzac; Walter Scott Hastings (pen name "Daniel D'Arthez"), professor of modern languages at Princeton University; Jean Pommier, successor to Bouteron at Chantilly; and Stefan Zweig, Austrian writer. To these and to other of his correspondents, Royce was "Colonel Philippe Bridau." Other Balzac specialists and collectors heavily represented are Philippe Bertault, William L. Crain, Jaques (Jack) Henriquez (pseud. Ki Wist), Ethel Preston, Max M. Rottenberg, and Helen Elcessor Barnes Wodrada. Correspondence with Belle da Costa Greene and Herbert Cahoon of the Pierpont Morgan Library concerns the manuscript of Eugenie Grandet, which came to the Morgan through Royce. International concern over the imprisonment of Marcel Bouteron by the Nazis is reflected in correspondence of 1942. Occasional correspondents include Philippe Bertault, Rubin Cohen, Christian Gauss, Gordon S. Haight, William Somerset Maugham, André Maurois, Paul Métadier, Henri Peyre, Horatio Smith, Shea Tenenbaum, but also corporate bodies such as the Bibliothèque Nationale, the French Ambassy, NY, the Lenin Public Library of the U.S.S.R., Moscow, the Public Library, Museums, and National Gallery of Victoria, Syracuse University Press, the UNESCO, and University of Chicago Press. There are miscellaneous letters from various correspondents to Auguste Giraldi, Royce's printer and publisher of Le Messager de New York. Three undated nineteenth-century letters from Paul Lacroix to Armand Dutacq refer to Mme. Evelina Hanska, to her sister, Mme. Jules Lacroix, and to his quarrel with Balzac which interrupted his collaboration in La Revue de Paris. There is one folder of undated Royce correspondence.

Autograph material contains material by Champfleury, Henri Lavedan, Eduard Pailleron, Frederic Mistral, François Coppée, C.J. Paul Bourget, Honoré de Balzac, F.F. Arbuthnot, Mithell Kennerly, Walter R. Benjamin, Eveline de Balzac, Arnold Bennett, Marcel Bouteron, L. Duhamel-Surville de Balzac, Julius Chambers, André Chaucerel, Mary Hanford Ford, Hugo Muensterberg, Bliss Perry, Arthur Rau, George Saintsbury, Louis Adolphe Thiers, Benjamin W. Wells, Katherine P. Wormeley, Louise Imogen Guiney, order issued by the République Francaise to Mme de Balzac, Hector Berlioz. "Autograph" is here used as an archival term referring to handwritten documents.

Balzaciana contains mostly printed matter, which apart from a few exceptions is dating from the twentieth century. The series is subdivided into Balzac in the Theater, Book dealer catalogs / Inventories / Advertisements, Clippings, Portraits/Pictures, Transcriptions, Miscellany.

Balzac Society, 1942-1960, contains membership files, dinner invitations, announcements etc. of the Balzac Society of America

Printed material contains Balzac related essays and articles published in scholarly journals, magazines and newspapers. Whole issues have been moved to rare books for cataloging and can be found through SU library's catalog.

Writings, 1905-circa 1962, include drafts and printed matter under the headings addresses, essays, and books; translations; printed issues of the Bulletin of the Balzac Society (1942-1960), files containing material for the Bulletin issues; a chapter on Balzac in D.C. Cabeen's A Critical Bibliography of French Literature; works written by others; a sampling of Royce's Poetry; and miscellany. Monograph material includes successive drafts of A Balzac Bibliography and Indexes to a Balzac Bibliography and bibliographical notes for a projected supplement to A Balzac Bibliography.

Memorabilia, 1904-1963, is subdivided into the headings Clippings; Family; Photographs, Pictures, etc.; Royce on the Radio; and Miscellany. A group of materials relating to the Royce family includes a folder of legal and financial documents and seven folders of memorabilia (inscribed charts, drawings, and photographs; printed matter; and the transcripts of Radio interviews two of which are with Royce (on Dave Elman's Auction Gallery in 1945 and on Physionomie de la Semainein 1949) and a third is a Balzac related edition of Invitation to Learning of the Columbia Broadcasting System. There are also several portraits of Royce and his wife, Eda Maria (Wallin) Royce as well as other pictures related to Royce's family and professional network and miscellany.

Arrangement of the Collection

Correspondence is arranged chronologically, with undated material and a small amount to Auguste Giraldi at the end. Writings are subdivided alphabetically by type and within each type arranged alphabetically by title. Miscellany is arranged alphabetically.


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Subject Headings


Balzac, Honoré de, 1799-1850 -- Bibliography.
Balzac, Honoré de, 1799-1850 -- Societies, etc.
Balzac, Honoré de, 1799-1850.
Bouteron, Marcel, 1877-1962.
Dargan, Edwin Preston, 1879-1940.
Hastings, Walter Scott, 1890-1962.
Middleton, George, 1880-1967.
Pommier, Jean, 1893-1973.
Royce, William Hobart, 1878-
Tenenbaum, Shea, 1910-1989.
Zweig, Stefan, 1881-1942.

Corporate Bodies

Balzac Society of America.


Authors, American.
Authors, French.
Bibliographers -- United States.
Book collectors -- United States.
French literature -- 19th century.

Genres and Forms

Clippings (information artifacts)
Drafts (documents)
Manuscripts for publication.


Book collectors.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

William Hobart Royce Papers,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of Abbie A. Royce, M.D., and Eva A. Royce, 1973.

Table of Contents


Autograph material


Balzac Society

Printed material



Selected index to correspondence


Selected index to correspondence