W. G. Collingwood (1854-1932) family archive

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

William Gershom Collingwood (1854-1932), a professional artist and professor of fine arts at the University of Reading, was perhaps best known for his friendship with John Ruskin (1819-1900). The archive contains over 200 letters from Ruskin, as well as sketchbooks and artworks belonging to both men. W. G. Collingwood published a number of books, and was actively involved with the Lake District Artists Society. The archive contains Collingwood’s correspondence, notebooks, drafts, diaries, and hand-drawn maps. Arthur Ransome (1884-1967) was a close family friend, who based his book Swallows and Amazons on his experiences of sailing with the Collingwood’s grandchildren. His wife, Edith Mary Isaac (1857-1928), was a respected artist in her own right, specializing in miniaturist paintings. Her sketchbooks, and 30 diaries are held in the archive, including those kept in the First World War years. It also contains c. 700 letters to her vast network of correspondents.

Robin George Collingwood (1889-1943), the son of William and Edith, is a celebrated historian and philosopher, and is also known for his work in the field of archaeology. Cardiff University is home to the British Idealism and Collingwood Centre, a centre dedicated in part to R. G. Collingwood's research contributions and writings. The archive contains his letters and diaries, as well as the sketchbooks and letters of his sister, Dora Collingwood (1886-1964). Like her parents, she was also a gifted painter and studied art in Paris. She married Ernest Altounyan and lived in a number of locations, including Aleppo during the First World War. Her sister Barbara Collingwood (1887-1961) was a respected sculptor, and her sketchbooks, 50 diaries and c. 200 letters are held in the archive. She married Major Oscar Theodor Gnosspelius (1878-1953), a civil-engineer who built monoplanes and conducted early aeronautic experiments, many of which are documented in his notebooks and photo albums. They had a daughter, Janet Gnosspelius (1927-2010), an architect and historian, whom we have to thank for care and collection of her family's archive. Her sketchbooks, 50 diaries, c. 200 letters, and extensive family history research are held.

Conditions Governing Access

Access is available by prior appointment, during 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday. Access to modern records within the archive may be restricted under the Data Protection Act.