O'Shaughnessy Papers

Scope and Content

Collection of literary manuscripts of the Victorian poet, Arthur O'Shaughnessy (1844-81) chiefly comprising some 21 annotated notebooks of poems, prose and verse composed by him, c 1860-70, and appearing in his published works, 'An Epic of Women' (1870), 'Lays of France' (1872), 'Music and Moonlight' (1874) and 'Songs of a Worker' (1881). Other notable items contained in the collection include notes and book lists prepared by O'Shaughnessy on the work of others, a volume entitled 'Trifles in Verse' (1825) containing copies of 40 short pieces by various authors, and a small notebook of views of the Isle of Wight (N.D.). Some papers relating to the actual acquisition of the manuscripts in 1916 are also to be found.

Administrative / Biographical History

Arthur O'Shaughnessy (1844-81) English poet, b. London, 1844. ed. privately. 1861 began work in the Library of the British Museum as a transcriber, before moving to the Zoology Department in 1863, where he became an authority on herpetology. Not previously known for his artistic talents, he published his first anthology, 'An Epic of Women' in 1870, to great acclaim, although his subsequent publications failed to live up to general expectations. An associate of the Pre-Raphaelites, his principal works included the aforementioned 'An Epic of Women' (1870), but also 'Lays of France' (1872), 'Music and Moonlight' (1881) and 'Songs of a Worker', which was published posthumously in 1881. His best-known poem is 'The Music-Makers'. d. 1881.Sources: Dictionary of National Biography (1895); Chambers Biographical Dictionary (1990); Eirdata http://www.pgil-eirdata.org

Access Information

Open to consultation


Description compiled by Clare McVeigh (RASCAL Project), entered by Deirdre Wildy, Special Collections

Other Finding Aids

See 'Calendar of Manuscripts Western and Oriental' for details (MS8). This calendar is available for consultation in the Special Collections Reading Room.

Conditions Governing Use

Subject to condition of material and copyright restrictions

Appraisal Information

The collection is particularly strong for illustrating the work processes of a fairly capable Victorian poet and for representing the Pre-Raphaelite style of writing to which O'Shaughnessy subscribed.

Custodial History

The O'Shaughnessy Papers were purchased by the University Library in 1916 from Miss Sadie J.I. Turkington of Belfast, who, in turn, had obtained them from the London bookseller, Francis Edwards of Marylebone, for the preparation of a MA thesis on O'Shaughnessy for her degree at Queen's.




"Arthur O'Shaughnessy and some phases of Victorian Literature," Miss Sadie J.I. Turkington (MA Thesis, QUB, 1917)