Our revised website shows just less than 300 entries in our archive. These items, including photographic- and audio material, letters, documents, articles and interviews had been collected over decades. Some of it was obtained from generous individuals but primarily from institutions, both local and abroad. The above excludes our book collection.
Our most recent source is the National English Literary Museum (NELM) in Grahamstown.
Carel van der Merwe, author of the outstanding Donker Stroom, Eugène Marais en die Anglo – Boereoorlog (Tafelberg, 2011) took the advice of Ross Devenish, director of the film The Guest, an Episode in the Life of Eugène Marais and paid NELM a visit while conducting research for his book and came across Marais references. We pursued Carel’s lead and found an astonishing collection of Marais (senior and junior) material.
Beth Wyrill, Research Curator/Registrar at NELM did not hesitate to grant us access to the Marais inventory. It contains some 70 entries related to Marais Snr. and includes letters, handwritten notes/notebooks, photographs and memorabillia (eg. a briefcase, spectacles and a pocket knife).
Eugène Marais Jnr. related entries add up to more than 150, including more than one cardboard container holding an eclectic array of items.
Prof. George Findlay, a relative who knew him well, said this about Marais Jnr.: “Letting go of life, he let go of everything – his father’s relics, hoards of private correspondence, a vast library and other personal items… Ultimately he became a hoarder more than a collector – down to the envelopes and containers”.
On closer inspection it transpired that Marais Jnr. had gathered and stored all manner of items over many years which he locked away in a backroom in Brits where he practised law. One such item was the original typed manuscript of The Soul of the Ape, his father’s magnus opus. Marais Snr. had kept (and misplaced) his personal copy of the manuscript which he ammended repeatedly up to the time of his death.
Fortunately Marais Jnr. kept the original manuscript, stashed away in his cluttered backroom, and eventually had it published in London (1939). The Marais inventory at NELM certainly warrants further research.
A letter to his son after his (five-year) stay in Heidelberg
Photograph (Letter): National English Literary Museum/2009.56.2.1.