University of Birmingham Staff Papers: Papers of John Churton Collins

Scope and Content

Four notebooks, c. 1860-1880 which take the form of a commonplace book with intermittent diary entries. The notebooks cover the time Collins spent at school and University, and the beginning of his career.

Administrative / Biographical History

John Churton Collins (1848-1908) author and professor of English was educated at the Grammar School of King Edward the Sixth (Birmingham, England), and Balliol College, Oxford where he obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1872. Collins was greatly interested in literature in his youth; he coached London candidates for civil service examinations from 1873, and wrote for the press and magazines; made friends with Swinburn, edited Cyril Tourneur's works, 1878; and Lord Herbert of Cherbury's poems, 1881. He was a contributor to the Quarterly Review from October 1878, and many of his articles there were republished independently. Collins was a successful lecturer for Oxford and London university extension from 1880. He long agitated with good ultimate effect for academic recognition of English literature at Oxford; urged his views in The Study of English Literature , 1891 and in periodicals, an outspoken critic of current literature in Saturday Review , 1894-1906; collected essays in Ephemera Critica , 1901, Studies in Shakespeare , 1904, Studies in Poetry and Criticism , 1905, and Voltaire, Montesquieu, and Rousseau in England , 1905. Collins was professor of English at University of Birmingham, 1904-1908. He received an honorary Litt.D. from Durham University in 1905; was a zealous amateur student of criminology;, and a brilliant conversationalist. He drowned at Oulton Broad near Lowestoft, Suffolk.

Reference: The Concise Dictionary of National Biography Part 2, 1901-1950 ( Oxford, 1967 ).

For further reading about the University of Birmingham see: Eric Ives, Diane Drummond, Leonard Schwarz The First Civic University: Birmingham 1880-1980 An Introductory History ( The University of University of Birmingham Press. 2000 ).


The collection is uncatalogued.

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Conditions Governing Use

Permission to make any published use of any material from the collection must be sought in advance in writing from the University Archivist, Special Collections. Identification of copyright holders of unpublished material is often difficult. Special Collections will assist where possible with identifying copyright owners, but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user of the material.


Further deposits are not expected.

Related Material

Seven letters relating to Collins are part of a large artificial collection of correspondence held by the Special Collections Department entitled Letters Additional .

University of Birmingham Information Services, Special Collections Department also holds the archives of the University of Birmingham and archives of other former staff, officials and students.