Author Dawn Langley Simmons had one of the first sex-reassignment surgeries in the United States. She was brought up as Gordon Langley Hall in England at Sissinghurst Castle, home of Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson, and adopted by the actress Margaret Rutherford. After surgery she assumed the identity Dawn Pepita Langley Hall, then became Dawn Langley Simmons after her marriage to John Paul Simmons. The Dawn Langley Simmons Papers span the years 1848-2001, with the bulk of the papers being dated between 1969 and 2001. The collection includes material collected and created by Simmons when she was using the names Gordon Langley Hall, Dawn Pepita Langley Hall, and Dawn Langley Simmons. The collection houses extensive files of correspondence dating from the 1950s to 2000, with topics ranging from Simmons' formative years in Great Britain, her relationship with her mother, Marjorie Hall Copper, literary circles in Great Britain, later personal events such as her wedding, and Simmons' development as a writer. Significant correspondents or individuals mentioned in letters include Margaret Rutherford, Isabel Whitney, Vita Sackville-West, Sir Harold Nicolson, Nigel Nicolson, Robert Holmes, and Edwin Peacock. The collection also includes writings by Simmons in the form of typescripts and diaries; printed material and clippings, including articles and reviews by and about Simmons; legal and financial papers; an extensive collection of scrapbooks; photographs; audiovisual materials; and other material relating to Simmons' personal life and career as a writer.
The Dawn Langley Simmons Papers span the years 1848-2001, with the bulk of the papers being dated between 1969 and 2001. The collection consists of material collected and created by Simmons when she was using the names Gordon Langley Hall, Dawn Pepita Langley Hall, and Dawn Langley Simmons. Extensive files of correspondence dating from the 1950s to 2000 document Simmons' formative years in Kent and Sussex, Great Britain; her relationship with her mother, Marjorie Hall Copper; literary circles in Great Britain; later personal events such as her wedding and purchase of her house in Charleston, S.C.; and Simmons' development as a writer. Significant correspondents or individuals mentioned in letters and other materials include Robert Holmes, Sir Harold Nicolson, Nigel Nicolson, Edwin Peacock, Margaret Rutherford, Vita Sackville-West, and Isabel Whitney. The collection also includes writings by Simmons in the form of typescripts and diaries; printed material and clippings including articles by and about Simmons; legal and financial papers; an extensive collection of scrapbooks; photographs; audiovisual materials; and other material relating to Simmons' personal life and career as a writer. The writings in the collection are primarily typescripts but include a few proofs and printers' galleys. Many of the pieces are unpublished. The publication process of the 1995 autobiography Dawn: A Charleston Legend is extensively documented by a series of edited manuscripts and proofs as well as correspondence with the publisher. Collection materials also document to some extent sex change treatments begun in 1967 at the Gender Identity Clinic of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore; Simmons' 1969 interracial marriage to John-Paul Simmons; and the disruption in their lives in part brought on by the negative reaction of Charleston society to their marriage.
The collection also contains an electronic file of an unpublished manuscript, WANTING MAGIC, by J. Theodore Ellis, including his unpublished notes, footnotes, and reflections based on the works of Hall-Simmons and related individuals, as well as professional studies of transsexualism and sexual identity. Includes a printout of selected pages of the manuscript. There is also Ellis' copy of Simmon's GREAT WHITE OWL OF SISSINGHURST.
The Audiovisual Materials Series includes video and audio tape recordings and photographs. The recordings include professionally-produced audio broadcasts discussing Simmons' transgender life and her interracial marriage - and an amateur audio tape of Simmons' wedding. Several hundred photographs document Isabel Whitney and her family as well as Simmons' family and friends. Original recordings are closed to research; listening copies are available for most items. Otherwise, staff must arrange for use copies to be made.
The largest series in the collection, the Correspondence Series consists chiefly of incoming correspondence, spanning five decades, from family and friends, from publishers concerning Simmons' writing, and from other individuals. There is some correspondence written by Simmons scattered throughout.
Brief but detailed entries in the eleven volumes housed in the Diaries Series describe Simmons' writing career, emotional states, and family matters during the time periods from 1975-1976 and 1987-1989, ending with the years 1990-1994.
The Legal and Financial Papers Series chiefly consist of documents concerning Simmons' father, Jack Copper, Isabel Whitney and her family and estate, Simmons and her husband, and Simmons' inheritance from Whitney.
The Printed Materials Series houses clippings, travel guides, flyers, and other items that document Simmons' interests, travels, and hobbies; includes early journalistic writings (chiefly columns), and a hardcover copy of her children's book, the Great White Owl of Sissinghurst.
The twenty-odd albums found in the Scrapbooks Series feature memorabilia, clippings, photos, and correspondence assembled by Simmons concerning her writing career, family, hobbies, and interest in celebrities and royalty.
The small Volumes Series consists of two manuscripts collected by Simmons: a nineteenth-century diary written by Sarah Combs, a transcript of this diary, and an early twentieth century travelogue written by a member of the Whitney family.
The Writings Series primarily consists of typescripts of works by Simmons. There are a few written pieces by other authors. Other writings by Simmons can be found in the Correspondence Series (in the topical correspondence folders for the 1950s and 1960s and scattered throughout in other files); in the William Carter Spann Series, which contains research Simmons conducted in preparation for a book on President Carter's nephew; in the Diaries Series; and in the Printed Materials Series, which contains early columns and later writings by Simmons.
Oversize Materials housed separately from the main collection include posters, cover proofs, newspaper and magazine clippings, and a few diplomas and awards.
Acquired as part of the Sallie Bingham Center for Women's History and Culture.