Princeton University Library Collection of Sir Walter Besant Correspondence
Held at: Princeton University Library: Manuscripts Division [Contact Us]
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Princeton University Library: Manuscripts Division. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
Sir Walter Besant (1836-1901) was one of the most prolific and widely-read novelists, popular historians, and social critics of the late Victorian era. He was also a philanthropist, antiquary, secretary of the Palestine Exploration Fund, originator of the People's Palace in East London, and a vigorous campaigner for authors' rights. He helped found the Society of Authors in 1884 and edited its journal until his death. Besant was knighted in 1895
This collection consists primarily of the correspondence of English novelist and historian Sir Walter Besant (1836-1901). A sizeable portion includes 100 letters sent by Besant to his publisher, Chatto & Windus (London), from 1881 to 1901. Amongst other topics that are documented, many letters relate to his publications, the Society of Authors, and the Palestine Exploration Fund.
Some photographs, ephemera, and writings relating to Besant are scattered throughout.
The collection adheres to a Departmental practice of combining into one collection material of various accessions relating to a particular person, family, or subject.
The collection has been assembled from various purchases and gifts from Seven Gables, David Holmes, Diana J. Rendell Inc., Bart Auerbach, Henry Briston, Farahan and Dupre, and John Watson Ltd, and others. The letter relating to the Palestine Exploration Fund is a gift of Mark Samuels Lesner.
Accessions include: AM 17247, AM 20737, AM 20837, AM 1991-74, AM 1992-100, AM 1992-128, AM 1993-36, AM 1993-52, AM 1993-74, AM 1993-146, AM 1993-157, AM 1995-50, AM 1996-64, AM 1998-04, AM 1998-45, AM 1998-64, AM 1998-82, AM 1999-97, AM 2000-87, and AM 2018-45.
Biography written by Jessica Marati, '08.
This collection was reprocessed by Faith Charlton in December 2017. Finding aid updated by Faith Charlton in December 2017.
No appraisal information is available.
- Authors--Societies, etc.--History--19th century--Sources
- Copyright, International--History--19th century--Sources
- Authors, English -- 19th century
- Authors and publishers -- England -- 19th century
- Manuscripts Division
- Finding Aid Author
- Faith Charlton
- Finding Aid Date
- Access Restrictions
Collection is open for research use.
- Use Restrictions
Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. No further photoduplication of copies of material in the collection can be made when Princeton University Library does not own the original. Inquiries regarding publishing material from the collection should be directed to RBSC Public Services staff through the Ask Us! form. The library has no information on the status of literary rights in the collection and researchers are responsible for determining any questions of copyright.
100 letters from Besant to his publishers, Andrew Chatto and W.E. Windus. Among other things, they shed light on the relationship between author and publisher, include commentary on Besant's works, and provide information about international copyright.Physical Description
Sent of behalf of the Society of Authors, and includes an enclosed completed questionnaire by Besant about the Copyright Act.Physical Description
Includes letters from William Allingham (1888), Sir Hall Caine (1891-1897), Frederick Hamilton, Earl of Dufferin (1887), Sir George Grove (1892), Anthony Hope Hawkins (1899), Sir Henry Irving, Andrew Lang, Sir Henry Newbolt (1889), Archibald Philip Primrose, Earl of Rosebery (1884), Herbert Spencer (1897), and William Watson.
A few letters of others are also included: Charles Stuare Calverley (C.S.C.) to Mr. Bell (1879); Garnet Joseph Wolseley, 1st Viscount Wolseley to Alexander George Ross (1889); and Theodore Watts-Dunton to Lady Besant (1890).Physical Description
Several letters, including a memorandum from The Authors Club as well as a copy of The Authors Club rules.Physical Description
Some correspondents include H. Rider Haggard, John Charles Fox, and J. Howard Whitehouse.
Also included is the poem "May Dew," lines from "Faith and Freedom," and two receipts for Chatto & Windus.Physical Description
11 lettersPhysical Description
Unidentified recipientsPhysical Description
Some correspondents include: Henry Allon, E.W. Chapman, J.A. Craig, May de la Chervis Crommelin, Louisa Devey, J. Ellaby, C. J. Perry Keene, Frederick G. Kitton, Frank Murray, R. Murray, E.H. Palmer, James (& Veershaw?) Payn, Frances Mary Peard, Mrs. Piper, Walter H. Pollock, Elliot(?) Stack, Andrew Tuer, A.P. Watt, among others.Physical Description
Clarifying his relationship to the wife of his brother, the Rev. Frank Besant, for purposes of an article about Besant.Physical Description
Regarding the production of an American play.Physical Description
Regarding "The People's Palace."Physical Description
Includes a letter to Lawrence Barrett (1884), a photographs of Besant and James Rice, clippings, including an obituary
Also includes photocopies of materials related to William Black. Original items related to Black were removed and added to the M. L. Parrish Collection of Victorian Novelists (C0171).Physical Description
Includes letters to G. Holiworth (1884), Edwin Oliver (1898), W.H. Picton (1897), E. Vizetelly, A.P. Watt (1893), Mr. Warren (1891), Mr. Wilson (1900), among others.Physical Description
Includes letters from Edwin Arnold (1900), Sir Michael Foster, Richard Monckton Milnes, Baron of Houghton (1894), and James Payn. Also included in an undated engraving of Besant.Physical Description
Consists of seven letters from Besant (1836-1901) to various recipients. Most are fairly terse; two are pasted inside volumes of Besant's works, London and Reading in Rabelais. Also included are two images of Besant on ephemeral items.Physical Description
Includes letters to Bullen(?) (1871), Anthony Salmeri(?)(1893), W.W. Senior(?)(1897), and others who are unidentified. There is also the signed bottom of a letter.
Images include a Tuck's postcard with an image of Besant by C.W. Quinnell, and Ogden's Guinea Gold Cigarettes card, no. 325, with Besant's photograph.Physical Description
Thanks Rogers for the two ballads and letter; reference to the Society of Authors in one of the verses in the book ("merry monks of Thelema").
Attached to Roger's annotated copy of Besant's book, Reading in Rabelais (1883).Physical Description
Encloses a note of explanation (not present) with regard to a mistake in his book, London, and inquires whether the recipient will be at the Authors' Club to dine with Émile Zola. The letter is attached to the front pastedown of Besant's London (1892), which includes an annotation on the first flyleaf.Physical Description