The Melanie Klein Archive

Black and white photo of a close up of Melanie Klein's hand writing on a notepad
Melanie Klein’s hands, writing

Housed at the Wellcome Library in London, Melanie Klein’s archive is also freely available in digitised form online (with the exception of materials not yet available to the public). This large collection of Klein’s notes, draft and unpublished papers, case materials, photographs, and much more, is a rich resource for scholars and researchers. The digital archive is made up of high-resolution, enlargeable images of each available item, and can be accessed by all – without the need for a special reader’s pass or institutional affiliation. (Please see below for terms of use and reproduction.)

Visit the Wellcome Collection’s website to view the archive catalogue.

Read the archive blog

The Trust’s Archivist, Christine English, posts extracts from this rich trove of unpublished material on our blog, ‘Exploring Melanie Klein’s Archive at the Wellcome Library’.

Visit the archive blog.

Explore the archive online

This digital collection contains over 350 items (files and folders) and over 30,000 scans of documents and photographs.

At the end of March 2021, the Wellcome Collection closed its dedicated Library website and has moved all of its digital library and archive resources to a new online address: wellcomecollection.org.

To access Klein’s archive material on the new website, either click here to browse the entire collection, or:

  • Go to the Wellcome Collection homepage
  • Click on ‘Collections’ at the top of the page
  • Type ‘digklein’ into the ‘Search the catalogue’ search bar
  • Click the ‘Online’ button next to the item you want to view

You can also simply type ‘ppkle‘ (the code for Klein’s archive) into the ‘Search the catalogue’ bar, and ‘Klein, Melanie’ will be top of the list of results.

About the collection

In her will, Melanie Klein left her notes and papers to the Melanie Klein Trust, and they were initially in the care of Hanna Segal. In 1984 they were given to the Contemporary Medical Archives Centre of the Wellcome Library for the History and Understanding of Medicine, where they could be more easily preserved and made available to researchers. Thus the material is now owned by the Wellcome Library, while the Melanie Klein Trust retains copyright.

Inside the Wellcome Library, London

There are 29 boxes, each containing several hundred pages of papers, some of which, especially the earlier papers, are written in German. Of these, some are in ‘Deutschschrift’ (an old form of German writing), which is difficult for most modern readers to decipher. Some of the early correspondence between Moritz and Libussa (Deutsch) Reizes – Klein’s parents – includes extensive passages in Yiddish.

However, the later material, written once Klein had settled in England, is written in English. Some material is handwritten by Klein; other material is in typescript, often with corrections in Klein’s handwriting. Most of the archive has now been microfilmed and is available for study in this form by bona fide scholars.

The papers had already been catalogued in 1961, just after Klein’s death, and this cataloguing was used as a guideline by Dr Lesley Hall, senior archivist at the Wellcome Library, who made corrections and added further material as it was donated. Further donations were as follows:

  • From Klein’s biographer Phyllis Grosskurth;
  • From Betty Joseph – translations of letters from Klein’s family members and photographs of Klein’s original small toys used in child analysis, 2005;
  • From Paul O’Farrell – photographs of the unveiling of a plaque in Pitlochry where the analysis of Richard took place in Narrative of a Child Analysis, 1987;
  • From Klein’s grandchildren – consisting of family correspondence, 1990;
  • From the Royal Danish Library, Copenhagen- copies of drawings by ‘Richard’ and copies of Klein’s letters to Georg Brandes about the posthumous publication of her brother Emanuel Reizes‘ writing, 2005.

Description of the material

The archive includes correspondence, diaries, drafts of letters and publications, case material, photographs, files on the controversies within the British Psychoanalytical Society (1939-1944), family correspondence, and literary fragments. The collection is not considered to be complete; Melanie Klein retained hardly any professional letters, although more family letters survive.

However, she kept an enormous amount of case material – there are 12 boxes of clinical notes – so it is clear that Klein, unlike Freud, considered her unpublished notes worth preserving, and may well have intended to use some of them in future publications. She tended to date her clinical notes, whereas most of her notes on theory and technique are undated.

The material is arranged in five sections, as follows:

A. Personal and biographical, 1879-1982;

B. Case material;

C. Manuscripts;

D. Notes;

E. Controversy within the British Psycho-Analytical Society, 1939-1944;

F. Family papers.

Access and reproduction conditions

Unless otherwise stated, the papers are available subject to the usual conditions of access to archives and manuscripts material, after the completion of a ‘Reader’s Undertaking’.

Certain clinical files are restricted and readers must additionally complete a Restricted Access application form to apply for access.

Researchers who wish to publish material must seek copyright permission from the copyright owner, the Melanie Klein Trust.

Work in the archives

Material in German is currently being transcribed and translated by the Melanie Klein Trust. Elizabeth Spillius was the honorary archivist for the Trust for many years. Since 2014 the post has been held by Jane Milton, who is continuing her predecessor’s work of making the archives more available to scholars and facilitating publication of interesting material.

References

  • Spillius, E. (2007) Encounters with Melanie Klein. Edited by Roth and Rusbridger. London: Routledge.
  • PP/KLE, Melanie Klein (1882-1960) List of papers in the Wellcome Library for the History and Understanding of Medicine, compiled by Jens Lazarus and Lesley Hall (available via the Wellcome Library).

Read about publications based on archive material