Skip to main content Skip to main navigation

Beverly Sprague Allen Papers

Call Number



1912-1934, inclusive


Allen, B. Sprague (Beverly Sprague), 1881-1935


1 Linear Feet 1 Linear foot

Language of Materials

Materials are in English


Collection contains manuscripts and lecture notes of Allen, Beverly Sprague (1881-1935). Allen was a literary scholar who held numerous teaching positions before coming to New York University (1914-1934) where he taught a number of courses for the English department. During the First World War, he taught at L'Ecole Militaire de Artilerie in France. He was also was widely published, and manuscripts for some part of this work is included in this collection.

Biographical Information

Beverly Sprague Allen (1881-1935) was a longtime member of the faculty of the English Department at New York University. He was born on April 9, 1881 in San Francisco, California. Allen received his B. A. and N. A. degrees in English from the University of California at Berkeley, in 1903 and 1905, respectively. While at the University of California he was apparently influenced by the 11critic of drama and famed writer of college songs, Charles Mills Cayley," for whom Allen served as departmental reader. Amongst the early teaching positions he held were Instructor in English at the University of Idaho, from 1905 to 1907, and Assistant Professor of English at the State College of Washington, from 1911 to 1913. Professor Allen received his doctorate from Harvard University in 1913 and was awarded a Sheldon traveling fellowship by Harvard for 1913-1914. In 1914, Allen assumed the position of Assistant Professor of English at NYU and was promoted to Associate Professor in 1922. In 1924 he was made full professor and remained at NYU until his ailing health compelled him to stop teaching in April, 1934. Professor Allen died on March 11, 1935 in California.

While at New York University, Professor Allen taught a variety of courses in the English Department, including English Drama, Shakespeare, Literary History of the 18th century, The Contemporary Drama, Sentimental Literature, and English Literature of the Period of the French Revolution; the undergraduate courses were conducted at the Heights Campus whereas the graduate courses were held at Washington Square. During his stay at the University, Allen also published several articles (see attached bibliography). The only interruptions in Allen's lengthy teaching career at NYU came in 1918-1919, 1925-1926 and 1928-1930. While on sabbatical during the academic year 1918-1919, Allen served as an Instructor at L'Ecole Militaire d'Artilerie, located in Fontainbleau, France. He visited Europe frequently, since it was there that the materials in his field of research were primarily located. In 1925,d Allen was granted another leave, at which time he returned to Europe in hopes of determining the subject for the literary endeavor he intended to produce. The results of his search were successful and hence he returned to his teaching position at University Heights with a great deal of enthusiasm about writing his book, in which he hoped to give 1tan Account of taste--of what men in those spacious days of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries liked and disliked when they built their houses and decorated and furnished them and when they laid out their gardens. He soon found, however, that he was unable to devote as much time as he desired to this project) since he was obliged to continue a full teaching schedule at the University. In 1928 he requested a two-year leave of absence, which Chancellor Elmer E. Brown granted unhesitatingly, and with the assurance that his teaching position would be held even for three years, if necessary. Professor Allen returned to Europe in the Fall of 1928, where he worked on his book, without the help of a grant or stipend from the University; his only source of revenue lay in his own savings and the income from a small legacy. In 1930, after he had accomplished a good deal of work on the book, he returned to the Heights and resumed his full teaching schedule. The book, which Allen entitled: Tides in English Taste, was completed in 1931. This two volume book was intended as a background for the study of literature.

Soon after Professor Allen's preface was dated, in February, 1932, he sent the manuscript to various commercial publishers. Although it was favorably received, none of the firms were willing to commit themselves to publishing the manuscript, largely as a result of the economic crisis plaguing the nation at the time. Eventually the manuscript was sent to the Harvard University Press, where it remained unpublished for a year, also as a consequence of insufficient funds. It was not until after Allen became ill and returned to California in 1934 that he learned that the Harvard Press had accepted the manuscript. Shortly afterwards, printing was undertaken, but it was interrupted in March, 1935, upon Allen's untimely death. After the executors of Allen's estate dealt with the inevitable technicalities that arose, printing was resumed and the book was finally published in March, 1937, five years after it had been completed. The book is apparently autobiographical; moreover, the subject of the book is said to indicate the varied interests of the author. In the words of one of Allen's colleagues and friends, Professor Albert S. Borgman, the book "has the power to live and act and serve the future."

*See Tides in English Taste (1619-1800): A Background for the Study of Literature, Vol. I and II. Cambridge: Harvard University Press) 1937.


Missing Title

  1. Borgman, Albert S. "Beverly Sprague Allen: In Memoriam."** __________ "Dr. Allen as a Productive Scholar," delivered at for Beverly Sprague Allen on March 11th, 1937.**
  2. Bouton, Archibald L. "Dr. Allen as a Member of the Faculty," March 5, 1937. Delivered by Albert S. Borgman at a Meeting of Remembrance for Beverly Sprague Allen on March 11th, 1937.**
  3. Haberman, Jules. "Dr. Allen as a Teacher," delivered at a Meeting of Remembrance for Beverly Sprague Allen on March 11th, 1937.**
  4. Marquis, Albert Nelson, ed. Who's Who in America, Vol. 15. Chicago: The A. N. Marquis Company, 1928.
  5. Schuyler, William. "Dr. Allen as a Friend," delivered by Mr. John Bakeless at a Meeting of Remembrance for Beverly Sprague Allen on March 11th, 1937.**
  6. See also The Critical Review, Vol VIII, No. 2, May 1935, for poems on Allen: NYU Ql7a
  7. **These and some other miscellaneous materials relating to B. S. Allen are filed under Allen, Beverly Sprague in the Archives H category in the New York University Archives.


The records have organized into one series in two boxes.

Scope and Content

"William Godwin: His Life, His Works and his Influence upon Shelley" (folder 1) and "Godwin's Influence upon Shelley" (folder 2) are two bound volumes of Beverly Sprague Allen's dissertation submitted to the Faculty of Arts and Sciences of Harvard University in conformity with the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy on April 1, 1912. The two volume manuscript is typewritten but does include some handwritten notes. This early effort was never published; however, Allen's deep interest in Godwin led him to develop and later publish some of the ideas he presented in this thesis. These articles were "The Reaction Against William Godwin" (Modern Philology, 1918), "William Godwin as a Sentimentalist,""William Godwin and the Stage,""William Godwin's Influence Upon John Thelwall" (all appearing in Publications of the Modern Language Association of America in 1918, 1920 and 1922, respectively), and "Minor Disciples of Radicalism in the Revolutionary Era," (Modern Philology, 1923).

The two bound volumes on the "History of the English Drama: from its Origin to the Close of the Elizabethan Period" (folders 3 and 4) contain notes which were presumably lectures delivered by Professor Allen in the class he taught at New York University on English Drama. These are not dated. "Modern Drama," Volumes 1 and 2 (folders 5 and 6), also consist of bound handwritten notes which were evidently lecture notes delivered in the course on Contemporary Drama, which he also taught at NYU. "John Synge: A Problem of His Genius," which appeared in The Colonnade in January, 1916 and "Recurrent Elements in Ibsen's Art," published in The Journal of English and Germanic Philology in April, 1918, were evidently offshoots from this course on Contemporary Drama.

Notes on Literature of the 18th century, contained in two bound volumes (folder 7 and 8), are probably notes on those lectures delivered by Allen in his class on Literary History of the 18th century.

Two remaining bound volumes (folders 9 and 10) in this series cannot be identified by a title. These two volumes appear to belong together as a set. The first chapter heading, in what is presumably the first volume is: "Tragedy in the 18th century." Other chapter headings include: "The Social Spirit of the Classical Period;" "Stub;" "Shaftesbury (1671 n. 5. - 1713);" "James Thomson (1700 - 1748);" Henry Brooks (1703 - 1783);" "Alexander Pope;" etc. Allen refers to the sentimental movement in some of these notes, which could possibly indicate that they were lecture notes from his graduate course on the Literature of Sentimentalism. Another possibility is that they could be Allen's notes for his class on Shakespeare or English Literature of the Period of the French Revolution.

This series of lecture notes and manuscripts is a valuable one in that it furnishes the researcher with insight into Professor Allen's teaching career at the University. The care with which he wrote these detailed lecture notes reflects his conscientious attitude towards his work. Moreover, Allen's dedication to his profession is undoubtedly revealed through the meticulous work on his doctoral dissertation and, of course, his book on Tides in English Taste.* His lecture notes would also be very useful to a researcher interested in various aspects of English Literature, during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

*See Biographical Sketch (pages 1 and 2) and copy of Tides in English Taste in Archives H Biographical Files.


Open to researchers.


Some materials may be restricted. Permission to publish materials must be obtained in writing from the:
New York University Archives
Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
70 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012
Phone: (212) 998-2641
Fax: (212) 995-4225

Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form: Identification of item, date (if known); Beverly Sprague Allen Papers; MC 8; box number; folder number; New York University Archives, New York University Libraries.


The alphabetical subject files of Beverly Sprague Allen were transferred from Gould Memorial Library, 1974.

Related Material

Allen, Beverly Sprague, Biographical File (University Archives)

Allen, Beverly Sprague, Portrait File (University Archives).

Collection processed by

Rohinie Jayatilaka.

About this Guide

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on 2023-08-20 17:54:56 -0400.
Language: Description is in English.

Edition of this Guide

This version was derived from 1983 finding aid.


New York University Archives
New York University Archives
Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
70 Washington Square South
2nd Floor
New York, NY 10012