Lilly Library Manuscript Collections


The Phillips, J. mss., 1916-2013, consists of the papers of John Nova Phillips, 1926 - . Phillips first traveled to Europe in 1951 for a Grand Tour. After receiving an M.A. in 18th Century English Literature at Duke University, he returned to Europe in 1955 to teach English in Laval, France and at Le Rosey, a prestigious school in Rolle, Switzerland. After moving to Florence in 1958, he became acquainted with Violet Trefusis, who became his close companion. Trefusis was an English writer and socialite, known for her affair with the poet Vita Sackville-West. After Trefusis' death in 1972, Phillips became her literary executor and inherited her medieval home, St. Loup-de-Naud.

The collection is organized into the following series: I. Diaries; II. Writings; III. Scrapbooks; IV. Photographs; V. Correspondence; VI. Business; VII. Publications; VIII. Clippings.

Diaries include handwritten volumes spanning 1952-1999, as well as books of inventories and quotations. Writings include essays based off of diary entries that Phillips later turned into his unpublished autobiography, A Romantic in Europe, and several essays by Violet Trefusis. The Scrapbooks are binders created by Phillips, consisting of a mixture of photographs, clippings, correspondence and other materials. Photographs consist of photographs, slides, albums and frames of Phillip's numerous acquaintances, friends and travels. Notable people featured in this series include Andy Warhol and Gore Vidal. Correspondence is organized alphabetically, and includes letters from Camilla Parker-Bowles, James Lees-Milne and Francois Mitterand. Correspondence also includes letters from Violet Trefusis, with John Phillip's notes. (The originals of these letters can be found at Yale.) Business consists of documents relating to Trefusis' estate, as well as Phillips' own literary career. Publications contains books and magazines. Clippings consists of book reviews and articles cut out from newspapers or printed from the Internet.

An inventory is available.

Acquired: 2004, 2012

Collection size: 2,250 items

For more information about this collection and any related materials contact the Public Services Department, Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405. Call (812) 855-2452 or send an email using our Ask a Question form.