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Thomas James Wise Collection


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

Wise, Thomas James, 1859-1937

Thomas James Wise was an English bibliographer and book collector who also privately printed nearly 300 works of English authors, some of which were later exposed as forgeries.

The collection consists of selected correspondence of Thomas James Wise, the English bibliographer and noted forger of the early 20th century. The bulk of the correspondence consists of 29 letters of Wise sent to R. W. Chapman at Clarendon Press at Oxford, dating between 1923 and 1932. The letters primarily discuss the publishing of several of Wise's catalogues and bibliographies including a Catalogue of Printed Books, Manuscripts and Autograph Letters for the Ashley Library, A Bibliography of the Writings in Prose and Verse of Algernon Charles Swinburne, and A Swinburne Library. Of particular interest is Wise's recurrent mentioning of his acquisition of certain pamphlets and "older" or "variant editions" of authors' works which he offers to Chapman and others for examination. In several letters, Wise makes reference to the book collector George Charles Williamson, who became one of the biggest collectors of the Wise-Forman forgeries. Williamson had urged Chapman to write the introduction to Wise's Catalogue. Wise also occasionally mentions his forgery partner, H. Buxton Forman.

Other correspondence includes a letter to Edmund Gosse with suggestions regarding an introduction to a bibliography, with Gosse's autograph response on the verso, and a letter from Gosse, dated Dec. 22, 1913, about a 'revise' of "Gold Horns." Wise received letters from scholars asking about his work, and included here is a letter of thanks to a Mr. Alwin J. Schener, telling him that he is preparing a catalogue on Dryden, which is to be followed by another on Pope. In addition, there are two letters to William Michael Rossetti, one of which is about the Thackeray Society of which Wise was the secretary.

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.

29 letters to Chapman were purchased in October 1944.

Edmund Gosse letters were purchased in December 1944.

Letters to Rossetti were purchased on September 25, 1970.

Letter to Alwin Schener was a gift from William H. Morris, Princeton Class of 1932, on May 29, 1987. Various AM.

This collection was processed by Dina Britain on December 31, 2008. Finding aid written by Natalie Kim on February 13, 2009. Folder Inventory added by Hilde Creager (2015) in 2012.

No appraisal information is available.

Manuscripts Division
Finding Aid Date
Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

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

29 Letters to R.W. Chapman at Oxford's Clarendon Press, 1923-1932. 2 folders.
Physical Description

2 folders

Letter to Edmund Gosse concerning rewording introduction to a bibliography, undated. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

2 Letters to William Michael Rossetti, 1894 August. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Letter to Alvin Schener concerning Dryden and Pope catalogue, 1929 November 28. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Letter from Edmund Gosse to Thomas James Wise asking to see a 'revise' of "Gold Horns", 1913 December 22. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Print, Suggest