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Sir Walter Alexander Raleigh Letters


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

Raleigh, Walter Alexander, Sir, 1861-1922.

Sir Walter Alexander Raleigh was an English critic and essayist. In 1885, Raleigh went to India, having been appointed as the first professor of English literature at Aligarh Muslim University. In 1889, he was appointed Professor of Modern Literature at University College, Liverpool, and he began to write The English Novel (his first novel), Robert Louis Stevenson: An Essay, and Style. He was Clark Lecturer in English Literature at Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1899, and incorporated his lectures into his book Milton. By 1900, he was winning recognition as the most original and stimulating of the younger critics. In June 1904, Raleigh became the first holder of the new Chair of English Literature at Oxford with a fellowship at Magdalen College. The school of English Language and Literature began its steady development with Raleigh's appointment. In October 1914, when his Oxford professorship was reconstituted as the Merton Chair of English Literature, he became a fellow of Merton College. After the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, Raleigh stopped writing literary criticism. The war occupied his thoughts for the rest of his life. In 1915, he went to the United States in order to deliver two lectures about England and the War at Princeton University. He found a new interest in his lectures at Oxford after 1918, when men who had fought in the war crowded to hear him. In July 1918, he accepted the invitation of the Air Ministry to write the official history of the Royal Air Force, The War in the Air, although he only managed to complete the first volume before his death.

The collection consists chiefly of twenty-seven autograph letters by Sir Walter Alexander Raleigh to his English publisher, Edward Arnold. In the letters, Raleigh discusses his manuscripts, the publication of his books Milton and Wordsworth, the sales of other books such as Style and Robert Louis Stevenson, corrections to page proofs and galley proofs, publishing agreements, reprints of his books, lectures which he will incorporate into his books, publishing in America and American copyrights, and other publishers, such as Ashbee, Putnam, and Clarendon Press. In a letter dated 3 October 1902, he asks Arnold to send galley proofs of his work to other authors, including John Sampson, W. E. Henley, and Charles Whibley. In a letter dated 12 January 1901, Raleigh is informs Arnold that his next book after Milton will be Wordsworth, followed by Chaucer, and then Shakespeare. In his letters, Raleigh is critical of the "natives" of the American continent. In a letter dated 3 May 1900, he proposes sending twenty copies of his book Milton (he changed this number to 720 in a later letter) and adding to it verses, entitled "To the People of America", in order to encourage Americans to read his book. In addition, there are two letters from Raleigh to the author Louise Imogen Guiney written in July and December, 1918, regarding proofreading one of her manuscripts and complaints about the poor quality of published books at that time.

Folders are arranged by accession number.

The collection was formed as a result of a Departmental practice of combining into one collection material of various accessions relating to a particular person, family, or subject.

Two letters to Louise Imogen Guiney were tipped in a copy of Raleigh's Milton and were a gift of Hamilton Cottier on February 3, 1983.

Twenty-seven letters were a gift of Bruce C. Willsie, Princeton Class of 1986 on March 22, 2001.

For preservation reasons, original analog and digital media may not be read or played back in the reading room. Users may visually inspect physical media but may not remove it from its enclosure. All analog audiovisual media must be digitized to preservation-quality standards prior to use. Audiovisual digitization requests are processed by an approved third-party vendor. Please note, the transfer time required can be as little as several weeks to as long as several months and there may be financial costs associated with the process. Requests should be directed through the Ask Us Form.

Folder inventory added by Nicholas Williams '2015 in 2012.

No appraisal information is available.

Manuscripts Division
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.

Collection Inventory

2 Letters to Louise Imogen Guiney, 1918. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

27 Letters to Edward Arnold, 1900-1903. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

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