Mary Cowden Clarke Correspondence

Scope and Content

Three letters, dated 14 August, 19 September and 2 October 1874, from Mary Cowden Clarke to Matthew Mason, printer and publisher, concerning revisions to be made to The Complete Concordance to Shakespeare (originally published in 1845), and proposals for the publication of its companion volume, The Shakespeare Key, by Charles and Mary Cowden Clarke. Also includes six-page manuscript prospectus for The Shakespeare Key, which was published in 1879.

Administrative / Biographical History

Mary Victoria Cowden Clarke (n e Novello), born 1809. Married Charles Cowden Clarke, 1828. Publications: Complete Concordance to Shakespeare, 1845; The Adventures of Kit Bam, Mariner, 1848; The Girlhood of Shakespeare's Heroines, 1850; The Iron Cousin, 1854; The Song of a Drop O'Wather, by Harry Wandworth Shortfellow, 1856; World-noted Women, 1857; Trust and Remittance: Love Stories in Metred Prose, 1873; A Rambling Story, 1874; The Shakespeare Key, 1879.

Reference: Who Was Who, 1897-1916 (London. A&C Black).


Letters are arranged in chronological order.

Access Information

Open. Access to all registered researchers.

Other Finding Aids

A paper catalogue to file and item level is available in the Shakespeare Institute Library. An electronic catalogue is available on the University of Birmingham Information Services, Special Collections website:

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 Identification of copyright holders of unpublished material is often difficult.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.

Custodial History

Material found contained in a copy of Mary Cowden Clarke's Complete Concordance to Shakespeare, 1889 edition, purchased by Ronald Knowles in 1986. The 'Concordance' was inscribed 'To Frank Girran. With E. Mason's fond regards. January 1st 1890'. Knowles surmises E. Mason to be a relation of Matthew Mason, to whom the letters are addressed.


Further deposits are not expected.

Related Material

Materials on Mary Victoria Cowden Clarke are available at the following repositories: correspondence and literary manuscripts, Leeds University, Brotherton Library; notes, poem and miscellaneous correspondence, Shakespeare Birthplace Trust Records Office; 1851-96: letters (49), Huntington Library; miscellaneous correspondence and papers, including letters (6) to Leigh Hunt, British Library, Manuscript Collections.


Charles and Mary Cowden Clarke, The Shakespeare Key: unlocking the treasures of his style, elucidating the peculiarities of this construction, and displaying the beauties of his expression (London: S. Low, Marston, Searle and Rivington, 1879).