Literary Studies

Research Source

Literary manuscripts, rare printed works, and personal papers of a range of leading literary figures, as well as unique access to a goldmine of rare and obscure literary texts and genres.

This collection provides students and scholars of British and American literature access to a rich seam of resources to support in-depth study in this field.

What collections are included?


Walden and Other Manuscripts of Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) from the Huntington Library

Henry David Thoreau is recognised as one of America’s greatest writers. This collection contains a significant body of his work, including the original manuscript of Walden: Or Life in the Woods. These manuscripts will also be of value to all those with an interest in natural history writing and ecology, and for those studying the 19th century New England influence on American Literature.

Autobiographies from men of all ranks

Sources from the British Library, London

This collection covers both manuscripts and rare printed autobiographies of the c.48 men ‘of all ranks’, in Britain. The material portrays a fascinating portrait of life in Britain from 1760-1820 of interest to anyone studying life-writing, autobiography, or the Romantic era.

Gothic Fiction

Rare Printed Works from the Sadleir-Black Collection of Gothic Fiction at the Alderman Library, University of Virginia

Tales of terror have been eagerly embraced by the public. This collection offers access to one of the most important libraries in Gothic Fiction at the University of Virginia. It makes available a broad range of Gothic Fiction, placing a specific emphasis on material that is extremely rare or difficult to consult and offers 171 individual works from a first edition Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein to the gothic classic The Castle of Otranto.

Nineteenth Century Manuscripts

This collection makes available significant manuscript sources for the study of 19th century Literature from libraries across the world. Split up into seven different parts, collection highlights include autograph manuscripts of literary texts from writer such as George Eliot, Robert Browning and Anthony Trollope; correspondence between the esteemed publishing house Smith, Elder & Co and its authors and the correspondence and papers of Robert Cadell, a bookseller who had a close working friendship with Sir Walter Scott.

The Diaries and Papers of Elizabeth Inchbald

From the Folger Shakespeare Library and the London Library

This collection contains 11 of her diaries, 13 of her letters and 14 of her manuscripts, including critical thoughts on Othello and the draft of A Case of Conscience, Inchbald’s memories and a dozen original editions of her plays. These sources will allow students and scholars to explore Metropolitan life in late eighteenth and early nineteenth-century London, the workings of the British Theatre and the challenges of being a successful businesswoman in the same period.

Gaskell and the Brontës

Literary Manuscripts of Elizabeth Gaskell (1810-1865) and the Brontës from the Brotherton Library, University of Leeds

This collection contains two outstanding sets of material for the study of Victorian Literature from the holdings of the Brotherton Library at the University of Leeds. The collection of Elizabeth Gaskell’s correspondence is the largest in the world. There are many letters to her daughters and sisters-in-law. The Brontë collection is equally rich and diverse. Maria Brontë is represented by an essay on “The advantages of poverty in religious concerns.” Charlotte Brontë is represented by a significant body of manuscripts – pride of place must go to the poems and there are also two exercise books used by Charlotte when travelling in Europe during the early years 1842-1844. The particular strength of the Brontë collection is in the prose works of (Patrick) Branwell Brontë, which includes his Letter from an Englishman, in six miniature volumes. And his translation of the Odes of Horace.



The Literary Manuscripts of Felicia Hemans (1793-1835)

Felicia Hemans sold more books of poetry during the Romantic era than anyone but Lord Byron and Walter Scott. This collection offers access to a wealth of material relating to Hemans, including her commonplace book, seventeen autograph poems, letters, commonplace entries and several volumes of manuscript poems.

Irish Women Writers of the Romantic Era

Papers of Mary Tighe (1772-1810) and Lady Sydney Morgan (1776-1859) from the National Library of Ireland

Mary Tighe (1772-1810), the author of the languorously erotic poem Psyche, or the Legend of Love, is now better known for her influence on the work of Keats. Lady Sydney Morgan (née Owenson, 1776-1859), best-selling author of over seventy volumes of fiction, poetry and prose, including The Wild Irish Girl, was a leading light in the academic social circles of London and Dublin. Scholars of Romanticism have recently drawn attention to the significance of their surviving literary manuscripts, and these are all included here in full from the archives of the National Library of Ireland, Dublin. Also included in this collection are Lady Sydney Morgan’s diaries and commonplace books covering the years 1825-1859 and correspondence between the Tighe family.


The Collected Writings of Geraldine Jewsbury (1812-1880)

Geraldine Jewsbury was a leading figure in the Victorian literary world, as a reviewer a publisher’s reader and as a literary hostess. This collection contains all of her published output, including ‘Zoe: The History of Two Lives’ and ‘The History of an Adopted Child’. Jewsbury was also well known for her close friendship with Jane Carlyle and a published edition of a selection of her letters to Carlyle is included in this collection.

Nineteenth Century Women Writers

Authors including Matilda Betham-Edwards, Florence Marryat, Helen Mathers, Charlotte Riddell, Dora Russell, Adeline Sergeant and Emma Jane Worboise

This collection will be of significance to all scholars and students interested in later nineteenth-century British literature and popular culture. It includes some of the best-selling and characteristic works of women writers that were highly influential in the development of the mid-Victorian novel. These include Emma Jane Worboise’s Thornycroft Hall, Lucy Walford’s The Matchmaker and John Strange Winter’s (Mrs Arthur Stannard) Bootle’s Baby, the latter of which sold 2 million copies in ten years.


The Collected Writings of Caroline Norton (1808-1877)

Caroline Norton is probably most well-known for being a committed advocate for creating equality in marriage between a husband and wife. Her public campaigning led to the successful passing of parliamentary acts. Caroline was also a successful poet and novelist and this collection includes a plethora of poetry, novels and pamphlets including The Sorrows of Rosalie (1829), A Plain Letter to the Lord Chancellor (1839) and The Dream (1840), the latter of which earned her the title of the “Byron of her sex” from the Quarterly magazine.

Oliphant: Series 1

The Collected Writings of Margaret Oliphant (1828-1897)

Margaret Oliphant is one of the most important women writers of the Victorian period, and one who wrote perceptively about family issues and women’s lives. She was a giant of popular fiction and a pioneer of supernatural fiction. Works such as ‘The rector’ and ‘Doctor’s Family', 'Salem Chapel', 'Mrs Marjoribanks', 'A Beleaguered City', 'Kirsteen', and 'Diana Trelawny' merit her place in any list of great 19th century novelists.

Oliphant: Series 2

The Correspondence and Literary Manuscripts of Margaret Oliphant (1828-1897) from the National Library of Scotland

This collection contains correspondence and original manuscripts belonging to Margaret Oliphant. Included in this collection are her personal diaries and reminiscences used for her autobiography, correspondence with Blackwoods Magazine and her family members, and manuscripts of Margaret Maitland, Zaidee, The Quiet Heart, Annals of a Publishing House, and various articles intended to be published in Blackwoods.

English Poetry

Recollections, Conversations and Commonplace Books of the Reverend John Mitford (1781-1859) from the British Library, London

This series of seventeen original manuscript commonplace books totally immerse the reader in the highs and lows of late 18th and early 19th century literary culture. They provide access to contemporary politics (with extracts from, and copies of, pamphlets), items from newspapers, poetry, copies of letters, anecdotes, sayings and biographical details. The commonplace books were the creation of the Reverend John Mitford (1781-1859), an indefatigable writer, collator and editor, with a passion for poetry, painting and landscape gardening.

Key Data

Period Covered

  • 18th and 19th centuries

Authors and Literary Figures Include

  • Henry David Thoreau
  • Robert Browning
  • George Eliot
  • Anthony Trollope
  • William Thackeray
  • Robert Southey and Caroline Bowles
  • Elizabeth Gaskell
  • The Brontës
  • Mary Elizabeth Braddon
  • Margaret Oliphant
  • Thomas Gray
  • Felicia Hemans
  • Geraldine Jewsbury
  • Mary Tighe
  • Lady Sydney Morgan
  • Elizabeth Inchbald
  • Gothic writers such as Matthew “Monk” Lewis, Ann Radcliffe, Caroline Lamb
  • Popular female fiction writers of the 19th century, including Matilda Betham-Edwards, Florence Marryat, Helen Mathers, Charlotte Riddell, Dora Russell, Adeline Sergeant and Emma Jane Worboise

Material Types

  • Personal papers
  • Diaries and journals
  • Literary manuscripts
  • Rare books
  • Business records of publishers