PALMER, Samuel (1805-1881)

Scope and Content

Collection of papers of and relating to Samuel Palmer, 1829-1944, comprising note to George Richmond concerning works seen in London, 1872; typescript copies of letters to various correspondents, 1870-1880, relating to the printing of his plates, advice on choosing prints; letters from John Linnell (Palmer's father-in-law), concerning retouching a picture, 1829, invitation to visit, 1858; letter relating to Samuel Palmer's financial affairs, 1845; correspondence between Alfred Herbert Palmer and Martin Hardie (some copies), [1922-1930], concerning selling A H Palmer's collection of his father's works and Linnell's papers; correspondence and notes of Geoffrey Grigson, including with Martin Hardie, 1922-1923, concerning A H Palmer's collection of his father's drawings; with the owner of a Palmer work, 1944; memoirs of Isabelle Linnell, relating to her grandfather John Linnell and Samuel Palmer compiled by Geoffrey Grigson, undated; correspondence between Isabelle Linnell and A H Palmer; copy of painting notes by Samuel Palmer, [1844]; catalogues of exhibitions of Samuel Palmer's work, 1927, 1928; article by Grigson on Samuel Palmer, 1941; sale catalogues of works by George Richmond, 1897.

Administrative / Biographical History

Born, Newington, London, 1805; educated at home and Merchant Taylors' School; took art lessons and exhibited at the Royal Academy and British Institution, 1819; met John Linnell, his future father-in-law, who gave him advice and instruction in art; became a close acquaintance of William Blake, 1824; moved to Shoreham, Kent, [1826-1833], painted in oil and made water-colour sketches; sketching tour in North Wales, 1832; exhibited at the Royal Academy and British Museum, 1832-1834; married Hannah, the eldest daughter of John Linnell, 1837; lived in Italy, 1837-1839; associate of the Society of Painters in Water-colours, 1843; exhibited many Italian drawings, later mostly English pastorals, illustrations of the `Pilgrim's Progress' and Spenser, drawing from Milton, 1855; gave drawing lessons, and continued sketching tours, visiting North Wales, 1843, Margate, 1845, Cornwall, 1857, Devon, 1858, 1860; produced illustrations for Dickens's `Pictures from Italy', 1846; began etching, [1850]; member of the Etching Society in 1853; member of the Water-colour Society, 1854; produced illustrations to Adams's `Sacred Allegories', 1856; moved from London to Reigate, 1861, Redhill, 1862-1881; illustrated `L'Allegro' and `Il Penseroso,' two poems of Milton; continued to exhibit at the Water-colour Society and produce etchings until his death; translated and illustrated Virgil's Eclogues, completed by his son, Alfred Herbert Palmer; died, 1881.
Publications: Shorter Poems of John Milton , with illustrations by Samuel Palmer and preface by A H Palmer; An English Version of the Eclogues of Virgil By Samuel Palmer, with illustrations by the author. Edited by A H Palmer (Seeley & Co, London, 1883).

Alfred Herbert Palmer (fl 1860-1926) was the painter's son. He published his biography of his father The Life and Letters of Samuel Palmer in 1892. He destroyed many of his father's original papers, and emigrated to Canada.

Martin Hardie (1875-1952) was Keeper of the Department of Engraving, Illustration and Design at the Victoria and Albert Museum. He was also an etcher, water-colourist and writer, publishing works on Frederick Goulding and Samuel Palmer in 1928.

Geoffrey Grigson (1905-1985) was an author. His papers in this collection probably comprise working papers for his book Samuel Palmer: The Visionary Years , published in 1947.


The correspondence is arranged chronologically.

Access Information

The Archives are available for access in the Archives Reading Room located on the 2nd Floor of the Mile End Library. The Archives Reading Room is open Mondays to Fridays 9am-4pm by appointment only. Contact the Archives for more information: Archives, Main Library QMUL, 328 Mile End Rd, London E1 4NS, telephone: 020 7882 3873, email: . For more information about the Archives see the website:

Acquisition Information

Purchased by Westfield College.

Other Finding Aids

Archivist's Note

Sources: Dictionary of National Biography CD-ROM (Oxford University Press, 1995); Historical Manuscripts Commission On-line National Register of Archives; British Library Public Catalogue On-line. Compiled by Julie Tancell as part of the RSLP AIM25 project.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopying at the discretion of the Archivist.

Location of Originals

It is not known where the originals of the typescript copy letters are located.


The Life and Letters of Samuel Palmer Albert Herbert Palmer (Seeley & Co, London, 1892); Samuel Palmer: The Visionary Years Geoffrey Grigson (Kegan Paul, London, 1947); The Letters of Samuel Palmer edited by Raymond Lister (Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1974).