Nobel Laureate’s Unpublished Short Story

Maurice Maeterlinck is best known for winning the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1911. He is often considered as part of the Symbolist movement in literature, a classification which also includes writers like Paul Valéry, Arthur Rimbaud, and Paul Verlaine.

Maeterlinck, who wrote in French, was born in Belgium in 1862 to a French-speaking family. Though he wrote many poems and essays, Maeterlinck is best known for his drama, particularly the play The Blue Bird, written in 1908. The play was popular in its day, and went on to be filmed twice as a movie—in 1918 and in 1940 (the latter starring Shirley Temple). Maeterlinck spent the later years of his life focusing mainly on philosophical essays dealing with issues of life, death, and the afterlife. In 1932, Maeterlinck was given the title of Count of Belgium. He died on May 6, 1949.

In 1972, Maeterlinck’s American literary assistant and occasional translator, Patrick Mahony, donated a collection of Maurice Maeterlinck’s papers to Special Collections at the University of Southern Mississippi. The collection includes correspondence (some handwritten), published and unpublished manuscripts, legal documents, screenplay adaptations of Maeterlinck’s work, as well as a work of short fiction. This short story, entitled “Our Dreams Precede Us”, is indicated on the manuscript to be Maeterlinck’s only work of short fiction and to be unpublished.

To view this item, visit Special Collections on the 3rd floor of McCain Library. This manuscript is found in the Maurice Maeterlinck Collection (M12).

For more information, contact Andrew Rhodes at or 601.266.6765.

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Text by Andrew Rhodes, Special Collections Specialist