Warton Papers

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 161 Dep. c. 634-49, d. 586-703, e. 276-305
  • Dates of Creation
  • Language of Material
      English, Latin, Ancient Greek (to 1453), and Italian.
  • Physical Description
      164 shelfmarks

Scope and Content

The Warton papers consist of:

  • Papers of Thomas Warton, including academic and classical notes, literary notebooks, antiquarian notebooks, and sermons
  • Papers of Joseph Warton, including notebooks
  • Miscellaneous literary papers
  • Papers of John Warton and James Ingram

Administrative / Biographical History

The members of the Warton family represented in this collection are Thomas Warton (1688-1745), professor of poetry at Oxford, 1718-28; and his sons Joseph Warton (1722-1800), critic, Thomas Warton (1728-1790), poet, antiquary and literary scholar, and John Warton (1756-1820). Details of all except John are given in the Dictionary of National Biography.

Conditions Governing Access

Entry to read in the Library is permitted only on presentation of a valid reader's card (for admissions procedures see http://www.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/specialcollections).

Acquisition Information

The papers were deposited in the Library by Trinity College in 1978 and 1979.


Collection level description created by Emily Tarrant, Department of Special Collections and Western Manuscripts.

Other Finding Aids

A full description and index are available in the Library.

Custodial History

After Thomas Warton's death, most of his papers were taken by Joseph from Trinity College to Winchester. Their subsequent history is not entirely clear. From correspondence of John Warton and James Ingram in Dep. c. 648, it appears that papers of both Thomas and Joseph passed to their brother John. He certainly used several of their sermons, and annotated them with the places and dates of their use. John died in 1820, and his widow and son, Joseph, tried to raise money by publishing and selling the papers. Among the purchasers were Peter Hall (1803-89), who later gave many Warton manuscripts to Winchester College, and James Ingram, President of Trinity College. On behalf of the family, Ingram sold some of the letters to John Murray. The rest remained at Trinity College.

Related Material

See also Warton Family Papers (Dep. b. 220-1, c. 547-50, d. 483-7, e. 245, f. 43) and Papers of James Ingram (MSS. Eng. c. 6842, e. 3324-5).


Many of the papers are discussed in:

  • J.C. Cunningham, 'An edition of the English poems of Thomas Warton', Oxford B.Litt. thesis, 1952
  • David Fairer, 'The correspondence of Thomas Warton', Oxford D.Phil. thesis, 1974
  • David Fairer, 'The poems of Thomas Warton the elder?', in Review of English Studies n.s. 26 (1975), 287-300, 395-406, and n.s. 29 (1979), 61-5