Rosamond Nina Lehmann was born in Bourne End, Buckinghamshire on 3 February 1901. She was the second child of Rudolph Chambers Lehmann and Alice Marie (née Davis).
She came up to Girton College, Cambridge in 1919 to read English and French. She married (Walter) Leslie Runciman in December 1923 and published her first novel, the best-seller 'Dusty Answer', in 1927. Shortly after this she and Leslie were divorced, and she married Wogan Philipps, 2nd Baron Milford, in November 1928. A son, Hugo, was born in 1929, and a daughter Sarah (Sally), in 1934.
Her reputation was established with 'A Note in Music', 'Invitation to the Waltz' and 'The Weather in the Streets', all published in the 1930s. By this time, Rosamond and her husband were friends of Lytton Strachey and Dora Carrington, and through them with other members of the Bloomsbury group. Virginia Woolf admired her novels. Relations with Wogan Philipps gradually deteriorated in the late 1930s and she began affairs with Goronwy Rees and later with Cecil Day Lewis. She continued to write novels, short stories and plays; her autobiographical statement 'The Swan in the Evening' was published in 1967.
She died on 12 March 1990 at 30 Clareville Grove, London.
This collection contains manuscripts and typescripts of Rosamond Lehmann's writings, ranging from her childhood stories to drafts of her later prose. Poetry and memoirs appear in the collection. It includes reviews of many of her novels by other individuals, and published articles about her life.
The correspondence is extensive and diverse. It contains many of Rosamond Lehmann's own letters to friends and family, notably to her mother and children. Letters sent to her from distinguished individuals show the range of her literary and artistic connections: Elizabeth Bowen, Dora Carrington, E. M. Forster, Margaret Storm Jameson, Laurie Lee, Rose Macaulay, Compton MacKenzie, William Plomer, Dadie Rylands, Siegfried Sassoon, Roger Senhouse, Stephen Spender, Virginia Woolf, and many others. A great number of letters from Leslie Runciman and Wogan Philipps are held in this collection, charting the course of her romance and marriages. There are also many letters from friends, fans and those seeking solace on the death of loved ones.
The collection is particularly rich in sources relating to Rosamond Lehmann, many of which were gathered by Selina Hastings during the research for her biography (Chatto and Windus, 2002) and by François Bort, a French academic who promotes Rosamond Lehmann's writings in France. These include photocopies of documents held in other archives and bibliographical references.
Among Rosamond Lehmann's papers are poems by Patrick Kavanagh, Cecil Day Lewis, Lilian Bowes Lyon, Goronwy Rees, Edith Sitwell, Stephen Spender and Jeremy Reed.
The earliest gift of her papers was made by Rosamond Lehmann in 1970 (catalogued as Misc/39). Additional deposits were made in the years 1976 to 1978 (catalogued as Misc/41, 42, 42A and 42B). Documents closed to researchers during this time were given the reference RR/1. In 2004 and 2005, gifts were made by various individuals and were made available with temporary reference numbers (Misc/30/53, Misc/100/RNL/2/2 and Misc/43/2). Significant quantities of papers were given by Selina Hastings in 2003 and 2007 and although they were given the administrative references Box 1 and Box 2 to indicate their provenance, these were not reference numbers given to researchers.