Correspondence and papers. 1944-1972.

This biennial lecture was made possible by the desire of Henry Myers to establish a forum for the discussion of man’s spiritual evolution. A Fellow since 1909, Henry Myers bequeathed a sum of money for this purpose but only lived to hear the first lecture, delivered by Prof. Radcliffe-Brown in 1945. The lectures continue to be delivered and a full list can be found in the ‘Prizes’ section of the RAI House Archives. The correspondence retained here covers the period up to 1963.


1/    Initiation of the lectureship

2/    Death of Henry Myers and the establishment of the lectureship

3/    1945. Prof. A.R. Radcliffe-Brown. Religion and society

4/    1948. Prof. Raymond Firth. Religious belief and personal adjustment

5/    1950. Revd. Prof. E.O. James. Religion and reality

6/    1952. Revd. Edwin W. Smith. African symbolism

7/    1954. Prof. E.E. Evans-Pritchard. The meaning of sacrifice among the Nuer

8/    1956. Prof. Dorothy Emmet. Prophets and their societies

9/    Prof. Alexander MacBeath. Lecture not delivered

10/    1962. Prof. Claude Levi-Strauss. The bear and the barber

11/    1964. Prof. J. Needham. Time and Eastern man

12/    1972. Prof. Mary Douglas. Self evidence


AHC    Anthony H. Christie (d. 1994), Council 1959-61, Hon. Secretary, 1961-70

WBF    William Buller Fagg, CMG (1914-92), RAI Hon. Secretary, 1939-56; Hon. Editor of Man 1947-66

HM        Henry Myers, Fellow from 1909-47, founder of the Lectureship

MWS    Dr Marion W. Smith (1907-61), Hon. Secretary, 1956-61

FS        Felicia Stallman, Assistant Secretary, 1942-52

1/    Initiation of the lectureship


1    HM to WBF, 1 July 1944 – since receiving the Annual Report has been considering whether he could do something to foster the study of mankind’s spiritual evolution; feels that the time is right for a new vision of the Creator; welcomes his advice and views; asks whether he thinks Council would accept a sum of money to be used to establish an annual lecture on the subject. 2 leaves (tp.)

2    FS to WBF, 12 July – encloses draft letter to HM; thinks it should be sent quickly since he is 88 and may also possibly be bombed (tp.)

3    FS to HM, [14 July] – has placed his letter before Council where it was received with great interest; Council sends its thanks for his offer and agrees there would be scope for such a lecture; it is ready to discuss details immediately; asks about the scale of the endowment he is offering; mentions that it should cover the costs of publishing the lectures to give them permanent value; offers to arrange a meeting at his convenience (tp. draft with autogr. amendment by WBF); see Council minutes, CM/74/1, 7 July 1944, Item 6, f. 434

4    HM to FS, 18 July – is pleased that Council is interested in his idea; asks for a rough idea of the amount of money needed to set up the scheme; the wording of the endowment should convey his wish that the lectures should further the study of mans’ mental and spiritual evolution; finds it less tiring to exchange letters than have a personal visit (tp.)

5    Note [by FS?] concerning HM’s letter of 18 July – does not think he will want to give much; does not think a scheme such as the Huxley Lecture would need a vast sum; gives examples of money spent on Huxley Lectures and estimates capital sums needed; inquires about offering a fee to the lecturer and about whether the lecturer should be invited as an honour or advertised for (tp. with autogr. note by WBF saying that he thinks the matter of a fee should be ignored; thinks £50 a year should suffice but is willing to accept half that, makes suggestions for a reply to HM)

6    FS to HM, 25 July – gives details of sum required to cover expenses of £50 a year for the lecture (tpc.)

7    HM to FS, 31 July – the sum of £2000 which she suggested is much more than he had in mind; suggests giving half the amount and arranging for the lectures to be given every alternate year, or for his gift to be used until it was exhausted; asks for Council’s views; has spent the last 18 years distributing free tracts without any financial help in an effort to encourage mans’ evolution; would like the Institute to carry on his work with the lectures; they should not represent any narrow religious teaching; is interested to hear if Council can suggest a better method than lectures of continuing the work. 2 leaves (tp.)

8    FS to HM, 14 Aug. – Council is happy to accept his gift of £1000 and arrange for a lecture every alternate year; asks whether he would like a draft scheme to be drawn up (tpc.)

9    Note from Coutts & Co., 21 Aug. – HM is highly respectable and good for his engagements (tp.)

10    HM to FS, 23 Aug. – welcomes her proposal to draw up a draft scheme; is willing to visit London to discuss matters when bombing has ceased (tp.)

11    FS to J.L. Myres, 14 Sep. – asks him to look over the enclosed copies of her correspondence with HM; WBF thinks Council should appoint a committee of the officers, himself, Mrs B.Z. Seligman and Prof. C. Daryll Forde (tpc.); copies of letters 6-8 and 10 above not retained

12    [J.L. Myres], nd – draft scheme for the HM Lecture (autogr.)

13    Ibid., (tpc.)

14    Mrs B.Z. Seligman to FS, 16 Oct. – has read the HM correspondence with interest; thinks they should get hold of some of the pamphlets he has published before agreeing to point 2 in the scheme [that the founder of the lecture should give his approval to the lecturer chosen during his lifetime] in order to form an opinion of his judgement; asks whether anyone knows him; although he is 88 he may yet live a considerable time (autogr.)

15    FS to HM, 9 Nov. – encloses a copy of the draft scheme; welcomes his opinion (tpc.)

16    Copy of the draft scheme (mimeo., with autogr. amendment by FS)

17    HM to FS, 23 Nov. – accepts the draft scheme; makes a proposed addition to the first paragraph to clarify the object of the lectures; feels that £1000 spent in his lifetime on such a project could be of great use in times such as the present upheaval (tp.)

18    FS to Mrs B.Z. Seligman, 29 Nov. – HM accepts the amended draft with a proposed addition; asks for her opinion; feels the matter needs to be dealt with swiftly (tpc.)

19    Ibid., to Prof. C. Daryll Forde, 30 Nov. – encloses a copy of HM’s reply; asks for suggestions about the wording of the proposed addition (tpc.)


20    FS to HM, 4 Jan. 1945 – has placed his letter before Council; asks whether he would object to the word ‘progress’ in place of ‘ascent’ as he suggested (tpc.); the amendment to the wording of the scheme was suggested by J.L. Myres, and accepted by Council see Council minutes, 19 Dec. 1944, CM/74/3, Item 9, f. 440 and 16 Jan. 1945, CM/74/4, Item 6, f. 442

21    HM to FS, 9 Jan. – is happy for the suggested word change to be made (tp.)

22    Ibid., 7 Feb. – wishes the Lectures to commence during his life time; encloses a cheque for £50; has considered giving the capital sum of £1000 but is unable to at present; in the present disturbed circumstances everything must remain uncertain (tp.)

23    FS to HM, [7 Mar.] – placed his letter before Council which thanks him, and will use the cheque as he wishes; Council was disappointed that he felt unable to endow the Lecture on a permanent basis and expresses the hope that this will eventually occur (tp. draft with autogr. note by FS who thinks it was a mistake to accept the money); see Council minutes, 13 Mar. 1945, CM/74/5, Item 4c, f. 445

24    Prof. J.H. Hutton to FS, 27 Mar. – makes suggestions for possible Myers lecturers; lists the people he would like to see on Council (autogr.)

2/    Death of Henry Myers and the establishment of the Lectureship


1    FS to Miss Myers, 15 Jan. 1947 – conveys the sympathy of the President and Council on the loss of her father; they regret that he was unable to continue to arrange for the delivery of the lectures (tpc.)

2    Miss Myers to FS, 18 Jan. 1947 – sends thanks for the expressions of sympathy; is glad to say that her father has left the Institute £1000 (autogr.); see Council minutes, 28 Jan. 1947, CM/76/5, Item 9c, f. 494 and Council minutes, 11 Mar. 1947, CM/76/6, Item 10, f. 497.

3    Colman & Knight, solicitors, to WBF, Feb. – advises that the late Henry Myers has bequeathed the Institute a legacy of £1000; asks for details regarding payment (tp.)

4    T. Walter Howland, Kimber Bull & Co., solicitors, to FS, 1 May – gives his opinion on the implications of Henry Myers’ bequest (tp.)

5    Extract from Council minutes and Conditions governing the Henry Myers Lecture, [May] – a biennial lecture is established (mimeo.) see Council minutes 6 May 1947, CM/76/8, Item 4a, f. 501


6    Mrs Beverley Emery to Prof. A.C. Mayer, 25 Apr. 1984 – lists references to the Henry Myers Lectures in the Executive Committee and Council minutes to assist him in writing an introduction about the lectures. 2 leaves (tpc.)

7    Prof. Adrian C. Mayer to Mrs B. Emery, 1 May – thanks her for the information; has not been able to find out exactly who Henry Myers was (autogr.)

3/    1945. Prof. A.R. Radcliffe-Brown. Religion and society (see JRAI 75, 1945, p. 3)


1    Prof. C. Daryll Forde to FS, 23 Apr. 1945 – seconds Mrs B.Z. Seligman’s proposal of Prof. A.R. Radcliffe-Brown for Myers lecturer (tp.)

2    Mrs B.Z. Seligman to FS, 4 May 1954 i.e. 1945 – proposes Prof. A.R. Radcliffe-Brown for the first Henry Myers Lectureship (tp.)

3    FS to Prof. A.R. Radcliffe-Brown, 16 May – he has been appointed as the first HM lecturer; gives brief history of the Lecture; Council hopes that a good first lecture will encourage HM to make an endowment; the lecture will be delivered at a special meeting, and be published in the Journal; there will be an honorarium of twenty guineas for the lecturer; asks him to let her know whether he is ready to deliver such a lecture; it should be delivered this year as HM is already 89; mentions another lecture he was to deliver and a proposed joint meeting with the British Psychological Society. 2 leaves (tpc.); see Council minutes, 15 May 1945, CM/74/6, Item 9, f. 449

4    Prof. A.R. Radcliffe-Brown to FS, 17 May – is willing to deliver the HM lecture; his subject will be ‘Religion and Society’; will send an abstract to Council; gives his preferred dates for delivering this and the other lecture she mentioned; cannot take part in the joint meeting (autogr.)

5    FS to Prof. A.R. Radcliffe-Brown, 24 May – due to the delay in Prof. Kroeber’s visit for the Huxley Memorial Lecture, the usual date for this may be used for the Myers Lecture (see 115/4); has discussed printing with Dr E.J. Lindgren; the text will be printed in the Journal and off-prints will be available for sale at the lecture; welcomes an abstract for press purposes; on the other lecture. 2 leaves (tpc.)

6    Ibid., to HM, 30 May – gives him name of lecturer and title of first Myers Lecture; there is a provisional date for late Nov.; hopes he will be able to attend. 2 leaves (tpc.)

7    Ibid., to Prof. A.R. Radcliffe-Brown, 12 Sep. – gives details of the time and venue of the lecture; reminds him of the need for plenty of time for getting it in print; feels it is important that printed copies are available at the time of the lecture; HM might not live to see it printed in the Journal (tpc.)

8    Prof. A.R. Radcliffe-Brown to FS, 20 Sep. – will have it ready by 12 Oct. (autogr.)

4/    1948. Prof. Raymond Firth. Religious belief and personal adjustment (see JRAI 78, 1948, p. 25)


1    Dr Audrey Richards to FS, 14 May 1948 – nominates Prof. Raymond Firth for Myers lecturer (autogr.)

2    Prof. E.E. Evans-Pritchard to FS, 1 June – notices that he has been nominated as Myers lecturer for 1948; gives reasons why he does not wish his name put forward (autogr.)

3    FS to Prof. Raymond Firth, 13 June – there were three nominations for the 1948 Henry Myers Lecture; Prof. E.E. Evans-Pritchard asked for his name to be withdrawn; Prof. Flugel was chosen by ballot but had to decline; now invites him to deliver the lecture; it is proposed that the lecture should become a fixture for the spring. 2 leaves (tpc.); see Council minutes 3 June 1947, CM/76/9, Item 7, f. 506

5/    1950. Revd. Prof. E.O. James. Religion and reality (see JRAI 80, 1950, p. 25)


1    FS to Prof. E.O. James, 13 May 1949 – Council has elected him Myers lecturer for 1950; gives details, the lecture will be delivered in May (tpc., with autogr. alterations by FS to make the letter also apply to Revd. E.W. Smith in 1952); see Council minutes, 5 Apr. 1949, CM/78/7, Item 9, f. 563


2    Prof. E.O. James to FS, 2 Jan. 1950 – encloses the typescript for his lecture (tp.)

3    Notice of Prof. E.O. James’s Henry Myers Lecture, ‘Religion and reality’ addressed to WBF, 14 Apr. (printed)

6/    1952. Revd. Edwin W. Smith. African symbolism (see JRAI 82, 1952, p. 13)


1    FS to Revd. E.W. Smith, 20 Mar. 1951 – Council has elected him Myers lecturer for 1952 (tpc.); see Council minutes, 6 Feb. 1951, CM/80/5, Item 9, f. 625 and 6 Mar. 1951, CM/80/6, Item 8, f. 627

2    Revd. E.W. Smith to FS, 26 Mar. – is honoured to accept; asks for copies of previous lectures (tp.)

3    Ibid., 14 July – wishes to deliver the lecture on 27 May at 5.30 (autogr.)


4    Revd. E.W. Smith to WBF, 3 May 1952 – on corrections to the proof of his lecture (tp.)

5    Notice of Revd. E.W. Smith Henry Myers Lecture (printed)

6    Revd. E.W. Smith to Mrs A.C. Bowe, 14 Oct. – on his subscription; asks for his fee for the Henry Myers Lecture (autogr.)

7/    1954. Prof. E.E. Evans-Pritchard. The meaning of sacrifice among the Nuer (see JRAI 84, 1954, p. 21)


1    WBF to J.P. Mills, 25 Mar. 1953 – nominates Prof. E.E. Evans-Pritchard as Myers lecturer for 1954 (autogr.)

2    Dr Meyer Fortes to WBF, 27 Mar. – proposes Prof. E.E. Evans-Pritchard as Myers lecturer (autogr.)

3    Miss B.M. Blackwood to WBF, 29 Mar. – agrees that Prof. E.E. Evans-Pritchard would be an admirable choice for the Myers lecturer; has forwarded his note to the President with a seconding note from herself (autogr.)

4    WBF to Prof. E.E. Evans-Pritchard, 14 May – confirms what he has probably already heard from Prof. Peristiany, that he has been unanimously elected Myers lecturer (tp.); see Council minutes, 23 Apr. 1953, CM/82/7, Item 8, f. 690

8/    1956. Prof. Dorothy Emmet. Prophets and their societies (see JRAI 86, 1956, p. 13)


1    Prof. Dorothy M. Emmet to WBF, 22 Aug. 1955 – is pleased to accept his invitation to deliver the Henry Myers Lecture; will give the title later (autogr.); see Council minutes, 3 Mar. 1955, CM/84/6, Item 11, f. 749

2    Ibid., to Miss Janet L.D. Anderson, Secretary to the Officers, 15 Dec. – could deliver the lecture on 29 May; is shocked that she wants the manuscript so early; had planned to write it during the Easter holiday; will try to get it done in time (tp.)

3    WBF to Prof. Dorothy M. Emmet, 22 Dec. – is sorry she had not been told that the text had to arrive three months before the delivery of the lecture; has spoken with B.A.L. Cranstone, the assistant Editor of the Journal; it should be possible to complete printing if the manuscript is in by 17 Apr.; hopes this will enable her to revert to her original plan of work (tpc.)


4    Prof. Dorothy M. Emmet to Miss Janet L.D. Anderson, 27 June 1956 – has been told that the Third Programme might be interested in her broadcasting her Henry Myers Lecture; asks to whom she should write at the RAI for permission (tp.)

5    Miss Janet L.D. Anderson to Prof. Dorothy M. Emmet, 6 July – the Officers have no objection to the broadcast of her lecture so long as not more than a third of it is printed in The Listener; asks when the broadcast will be (tpc.)

6    Prof. Dorothy M. Emmet to Miss Janet L.D. Anderson, 30 July – the BBC want her to give a half-hour talk based on the lecture; doubts it will be printed; will make sure that the RAI is acknowledged; would like to use some of the lecture material in a chapter of a book she is writing; will make a reference to the Journal (autogr.)


7    Extract from the Radio Times, 25 Jan. 1957 – notice of the talk by Prof. Dorothy M. Emmet (printed)

8    Prof. Dorothy M. Emmet to Miss Janet L.D. Anderson, 1 Aug. – has answered A.F. Wells’s letter about a paper referred to in her Henry Myers Lecture (tp.)

For nominations for the Henry Myers Lecture 1958 see Council minutes, 4 Apr. 1957, CM/86/7, Item 10, f. 11 and 2 May 1957, CM/86/8, Item 11, f. 15

There are no papers relating to the next two Lecturers: 1958. Prof. I. Schapera. Christianity and the Tswana (see JRAI 88, 1958, p. 1) and 1960. Prof. Meyer Fortes. Pietas in ancestor worship (see JRAI 91, 1961, p. 166)

9/    Prof. Alexander MacBeath. Lecture not delivered


1    Prof. Maurice Freedman to MWS, 18 Feb. 1959 – gives biographical details of Prof. Alexander MacBeath whom he proposed as Myers lecturer for 1960 (tp.); see Council minutes, 5 Feb. 1959, CM/88/5, Item 8, f. 68

2    MWS to Prof. Alexander MacBeath, 10 Mar. – invites him to deliver the Henry Myers Lecture (tpc.); see Council minutes, 5 Mar. 1959, CM/88/6, Item 7, f. 70

3    Prof. Alexander MacBeath to MWS, 13 Mar. – conveys his thanks to Council for the honour; suggests the second half of May for the lecture (autogr.)

4    Ibid., 1 May – has not yet decided on a subject; is extremely busy (tp.)

5    Ibid., 13 May – asks to be released from his obligation to deliver the Henry Myers Lecture; has been invited as a Visiting Professor to Australia and would like to go (tp.)

6    MWS to Prof. Alexander MacBeath, 22 May – hopes it might be possible to delay the delivery of the lecture until his return from Australia if he is willing (tpc.); see Council minutes, 4 June 1959, CM/88/9, Item 1, f. 78

7    Prof. Alexander MacBeath to MWS, 25 May – doubts whether he will be back before the Spring of 1961; would like to deliver the lecture if this is not too late (tp.); see Council minutes, 8 Oct. 1959, CM/89/1, Item 1, f. 80

8    Ibid., 17 Nov. – on book review; still cannot give an exact date for his return; thinks it would probably be best to appoint another lecturer (tp.); see Council minutes, 10 Dec. 1959, CM/89/3, Item 8, ff. 88-9


9    MWS to Prof. Alexander MacBeath, 6 Jan. 1960 – Council regrets his decision and hopes that he will be able to lecture on a future occasion; on the Journal and the book he reviewed (tpc.)

For nominations for the Henry Myers Lecture 1960 see Council minutes, 7 Jan. 1960, CM/89/4, Item 8, f. 91; Dr Meyer Fortes was chosen see Council minutes, 4 Feb. 1960, CM/89/4, Item 7, f. 93

10/    1962. Prof. Claude Levi-Strauss. The bear and the barber: on the typological relationship of totemic groups and caste systems (see JRAI 93, 1963, p. 1)


1    WBF to Prof. Claude Lévi-Strauss, 3 Mar. 1961 – invites him to deliver the Henry Myers Lecture for 1962; see Council minutes, 2 Feb. 1961, CM/90/5, Item 7, f. 123; and 2 Mar. 1961, CM/90/6, Item 7, f. 126

2    Prof. Claude Lévi-Strauss to WBF, 13 Mar. – is honoured to accept; warns him that he has not spoken English for 12 or 13 years but will do his best (tp.)


3    AHC to Prof. Claude Lévi-Strauss, 9 Feb. 1962 – on arrangements for the Henry Myers Lecture; asks whether his wife will be joining him (tpc.)

4    Prof. Claude Lévi-Strauss to AHC, 15 Feb. – will be staying for just one night and travelling alone; asks him to make a reservation in a quiet hotel (autogr.)

5    J.P. Handford, Hotel Russell, to Miss Rachel M. Lloyd, 26 Feb. – confirms booking of room for Prof. Claude Lévi-Strauss (tp.)

6    AHC, 27 Apr. – invitation from the President to a dinner party at the London School of Economics in honour of Prof. Claude Lévi-Strauss (tp.)

7    Prof. Claude Lévi-Strauss to AHC, 3 May – will be delighted to attend the dinner party; is concerned that he has had no reply to his request to reserve a hotel room; asks that his lecture fee could be left at the hotel desk for him so he need buy no English currency (tp.)

8    Ibid., to WBF, 9 July – encloses the text of his Henry Myers Lecture; it will probably require some editing if it is to be published (tp.)

9    AHC to Prof. Claude Lévi-Strauss, 13 July – was glad to have the opportunity to read his lecture as illness forced him to miss the occasion of its delivery; will pass the manuscript to the Editor of the Journal (tpc.)

11/    1964. Prof. J. Needham. Time and Eastern man (see RAI Occ. Pap. 21)


1    AHC to Dr J. Needham, 8 May 1963 – he has been elected Henry Myers lecturer for 1964 (tpc.)

There are no papers relating to the following three Lecturers: 1966. Edmund Leach. Virgin birth (see RAI Proceedings 1966, p. 39); 1968. Audrey I. Richards. Keeping the king divine (see RAI Proceedings 1968, p. 23); 1970. L. Dumont. Religion, politics and society in the individualistic universe (see RAI Proceedings 1970, p. 31)

12/    1972. Prof. Mary Douglas. Self evidence (see RAI Proceedings 1972, p. 27)


1    Notice of Prof. Mary Douglas’s Henry Myers Lecture, Self Evidence, to be held on 4 May 1972 (printed)