Arthur David Waley was born Arthur David Schloss, son of the economist David Frederick Schloss. In 1914, he changed his name to Waley, his mother's family name. He attended Rugby School, and was admitted to King's College, Cambridge on 10 Oct. 1907. He studied Classics, and was awarded his B.A. in 1910.
In 1913, he was appointed Assistant Keeper of Oriental Prints and Manuscripts at the British Museum. He left the museum in 1929 to devote himself to writing. He taught himself Japanese and Chinese, initially in order to catalogue the paintings in the Museum's collection. As his interest grew, he began translating poetry, and was the author of numerous works. These include '170 Chinese Poems' (1918), 'Japanese Poetry: The Uta' (1919), 'The No Plays of Japan' (1921), 'The Temple' (1923), 'Introduction to the Study of Chinese Painting' (1923), 'The Tale of Genji' (published in 6 volumes from 1921-33), 'The Pillow-Book of Sei Shonagon' (1928) and 'Monkey' (1942). His last book, 'The Secret History of the Mongols' was published in 1963. In total, he produced 22 books of Chinese and Japanese translations and history.
In 1918, he met Beryl de Zoete, who was a dance critic and writer. They lived together until her death in 1962. In 1966, Arthur Waley married Alison Robinson, whom he had first met in 1929. Arthur Waley was awarded many honours, including an Honorary Fellowship of King's College, Cambridge (1945), a C.B.E (1952), the Queen's Medal for Poetry (1953) and a Companion of Honour (1956).
This collection contains documents written by Arthur Waley, and papers relating to him. It includes memoirs by members of his family, correspondence, photographs, off-prints both by and about him, and newspaper cuttings.
This collection was given by Dr Daniel Waley, nephew of Arthur Waley, in six separate accessions between 1999 and 2001. Items reference number ADW 6/2 were given by Prof. A.M. Birrell in 1995.
Recent envelopes used by Daniel Waley only for convenient storage have been removed. Cover letters from Daniel Waley to the King's College Librarian have been removed, and are held in the Archivist's Office.
The biographical information above was provided by A. and V. Palmer, 'Who's Who in Bloomsbury' (Brighton: Harvester, 1987), pp. 190-191. For further information, see 'The Annual Report of the Council, King's College, Cambridge'. (Nov. 1966), Francis A. Johns, 'A Bibliography of Arthur Waley' (London, 1968), and Alison Waley 'A Half of Two Lives' (London, 1982).
A large collection of books, manuscripts and letters of Arthur Waley and Beryl de Zoete are held in the Special Collections of Rutgers University Library, New Jersey, USA.
This catalogue, and the digital version of it, were completed in June 2003.