Michael Sadleir


Michael Sadleir (née Michael Thomas Harvey Sadler) was an English bibliographer, biographer, novelist, and preeminent book collector of nineteenth century fiction and non-fiction.

The son of Sir Michael Ernest Sadler, a noted educationalist, social reformer, and modern art collector, Sadleir changed his last name to the early spelling of his family name in order to differentiate himself from his father. After attending Balliol College in Oxford and Rugby School, Sadleir joined Constable and Company Publishers in London in 1912. With the exception of his military service during World War I and subsequent work for the secretariat of the League of Nations, Sadleir spent the entirety of his career at Constable and Company. In 1920 he assumed a directorship of the company.

A prolific writer, Sadleir wrote non-fiction and fiction, including the novel Fanny By Gaslight (1940; adapted for film in 1945). Although his expertise was nineteenth century British literary and social history, some of his earliest publications focused on art, and he is credited with shifting his father’s collecting interest toward modern art. Between 1911 and 1913 he regularly published essays on art in the magazine Rhythm: Art, Music, Literature. In 1914 Sadleir reviewed and translated into English Über das Geistige in der Kunst (Concerning the Spiritual in Art, 1911) by Wassily Kandinsky, whom he met in 1912. His translation was published under the name M. T. H. Sadler as The Art of Spiritual Harmony (London, 1914). Sadleir’s father owned works by Kandinsky and knew the artist personally. Ten years later, Sadleir published another art-related book titled Daumier: the Man and the Art (London, 1924).

An authority on Victorian fiction, Sadleir also authored mostly bibliographies and biographies that focus on that genre. He was highly regarded expert on the novelist Anthony Trollope. He sold the bulk of his book collection in the 1950s to American universities. The collection of 10,000 volumes of Victorian novels was purchased by the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). The University of Virginia obtained the collection of Gothic romances and Princeton University the Trollope collection.

For more information, see:

Stokes, Roy Bishop. Michael Sadleir, 1888–1957. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1980.

Archives: The Michael Sadleir Papers, 1797–1958 are housed at the Louis Round Wilson Special Collections Library, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The archive contains professional and family correspondence, various documents, and materials related to Sadleir’s research and publications.

How to cite this entry:
Jozefacka, Anna, "Michael Sadleir," The Modern Art Index Project (January 2015), Leonard A. Lauder Research Center for Modern Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art. https://doi.org/10.57011/UYHW4462

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