Mona Douglas (1898-1987) was a remarkable Manxwomen who, in spite of childhood illnesses, became a formidable figure in the world of folklore and music. A gifted poet and writer, she trained as a librarian in Dublin, then worked as secretary to A. P. Graves before moving to London, where she met and worked with many of the leading figures in the world of literature and folk music. Following her return to the Island in the early 1930s, she devoted her life to the collection and dissemination of Manx music and dance, with a particular interest in the younger generation. She revived Yn Chruinnaght when she was nearly 80, an age when most people are tending to sit back and take life easily. In the last decade of her life, she received many awards in recognition of her energetic and influential role in Manx cultural life.
After her death, her papers were lodged in the archives of the Manx National Heritage Library. To date they have only been dipped into sporadically and, as a result of an initiative from the Centre for Manx Studies, the Foundation is funding Dr. Breesha Maddrell to sift through them, collate them and then make a detailed assessment of their value and content. Mona corresponded with a huge range of people throughout the British Isles and beyond and, as her work as a collector, poet and writer on Manx subjects became more widely known, she was much in demand as a contributor to magazines and anthologies, and as a source of information of all aspects of Manx culture.
Her papers, which include everything from bank statements and bills to original manuscripts and unpublished works, provide a fascinating insight to one of the Island's most important cultural influences of the 20th century.
The diverse and overlapping nature of Douglas' contribution to Manx cultural life is proving challenging, but this work will enable researchers to access easily papers concerning different individuals, organisations and projects. An in-depth study of Douglas' contribution to the Manx revival will then be much more feasible. This work was on a part-time basis, ending in Autumn 2003. An edited volume of Mona Douglas' poetry will be produced to conclude the project.