The Royal Literary Fund is a benevolent fund, set up in 1790 to help professional published writers in financial difficulty. The organisation is funded by private subscribers and bequests from other writers. A large part of the Royal Literary Fund archive consists of case files for individuals who applied for assistance with letters from applicants and their supporters.
World War One impacted upon all aspects of life in Britain including the work of the Royal Literary Fund. The decision was taken to cancel the organisation’s anniversary dinners between 1915 and 1919 as it was felt that ‘attendance at a Banquet would be repugnant to the feelings of many of those on whose support’ they wished to rely. This image from the Annual Report for 1915 goes on to explain that the war is likely to cause ‘acute distress’ to writers particularly as there could be a shortfall in financial assistance for the Fund’s work. The effect of war was mentioned in all subsequent wartime annual reports with particular reference in 1918 to difficulties as a result of the ‘repeated restriction of paper and binding and of the labour needed for the issue of books’. A number of writers, including Edward Thomas, D H Lawrence and James Joyce, received support during the period.