Catalogue description FEMINA VIE HEUREUSE PRIZE: ENGLISH COMMITTEE: Minutes and papers

This record is held by Cambridge University Library: Department of Manuscripts and University Archives

Details of Add.MS8900
Reference: Add.MS8900

The papers of the Committee consist principally of minutes, accounts, letters from committee members and prizewinners, and correspondence with the French committee, mainly through its Secretary, Mme C. de Broutelles. The English committee included writers such as Rebecca West, Rosamond Lehmann, Kate O'Brien and Clemence Dane. The Secretary was Winifred Stephens Whale until 1939, and thereafter Margaret Harris; the Assistant Secretary was Elizabeth Murray.

Date: 1919 - 1940
Held by: Cambridge University Library: Department of Manuscripts and University Archives, not available at The National Archives
Language: English

Femina Vie Heureuse Prize: English Committee

Physical description: 2 boxes, 6 series
Immediate source of acquisition:

The papers were bought from Mrs Frances Platten of Fulbourn, Cambridge, in 1992.

Administrative / biographical background:

Messrs Hachette, the publisher of two French magazines, Femina and La Vie Heureuse, established in 1904 an annual prize for a French work of imagination, chosen by a committee of literary women. In 1919 Hachette offered to award similar prizes in a number of allied coutries. The offer was taken up in England and a committee formed, which held its first meeting on 20 June 1919.


The prize was 1000 francs (£40) and was intended to "reward a strong and original piece of work, excellent in matter and in style, promising for the future, and calculated to reveal to French readers the true spirit and character of England" (Articles of Association of English committee no.VI, in minutes of first meeting, vol 1 p.6). The aim was to encourage writers who were felt to be insufficiently known or appreciated.


Each year the committee discussed a dozen or so books recommended by members, and short-listed three, from which the French committee chose the winner. In 1920 Lady Northcliffe offered to fund a similar prize for a French work, and this was chosen by the English committee from a list submitted by the French committee. The prizes were presented by a well-known literary personality at a ceremony in London each summer. The winning books included Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse, E.M. Forster's A Passage to India, and Stella Gibbons' Cold Comfort Farm (see list of prizewinners below, p.2).


Funding for the French prize was taken over by Hodder and Stoughton in 1923, when it was called the "Bookman" prize; then by Jonathan Cape 1929-1931 and Sir Ernest Benn 1932-1934, when it was once more called the Northcliffe prize. From 1935 onwards it was funded by Heinemann, and called the Heinemann prize. In 1938 Hachette discontinued the funding of the English prize, and it was taken over by the publisher Stock, and called the Stock (Femina Vie Heureuse) prize. The last prizes were awarded in the summer of 1939; the committees resolved to continue in spite of the war, but were evidently unable to do so, and the last meeting of the English committee was held on 10 April 1940.




1920 William an Englishman Cicely Hamilton


1921 The Splendid Fairing Constance Holme


1922 Dangerous Ages Rose Macaulay


1923 Gruach Gordon Bottomley


1924 Roman Pictures Percy Lubbock


1925 A Passage to India E.M. Forster


1926 Precious Bane Mary Webb


1927 Adam's Breed Radclyffe Hall


1928 To the Lighthouse Virginia Woolf


1929 Gallion's Reach H.M. Tomlinson


1930 Portrait in a Mirror Charles Morgan


1931 A High Wind in Jamaica Richard Hughes


1932 Tobit Transplanted Stella Benson


1933 Small Town Bradda Field


1934 Cold Comfort Farm Stella Gibbons


1935 Harriet Elizabeth Jenkins


1936 The Root and the Flower L.H. Myers


1937 Faith, Hope, no Charity Margaret Lane


1938 The Porch Richard Church


1939 Count Belisarius Robert Graves




1921 Dansons la Trompeuse Raymond Escholier


1922 Epithalame Jacques Chardonne


1923 La Vigne et la Maison Jean Balde


1924 L'Equipage Joseph Kessel


1925 Le Désert de l'Amour François Mauriac


1926 Le Joug Marion Gilbert


1927 La Porte du Sauveur Etienne Burnet


1928 Adrienne Mesurat Julien Green


1929 Sur les Fortifs du Paradis Céline Lhotte


1930 Le Sourire de l'Ange Léandre Vaillat


1931 Regain Jean Giono


1932 St Saturnin Jean Schlumberger


1933 Héritage André Chamson


1934 Passé a Louer Pierre Marois


1935 Les Célibataires Henry de Montherlant


1936 Le Balai de Sorcière Armand Lunel


1937 Jeux de Vilains Elvire Pélissier


1938 La Pèche Miraculeuse Guy de Pourtalès


1939 La Dame en Noir Camille Mayran

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