Bosanquet Papers

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The collection is divided into the papers of Bernard Bosanquet and the papers of Helen Bosanquet. The papers of Bernard Bosanquet consist of a large variety of correspondence, research notes, drafts and manuscripts of publications, as well as offprints from journals and other publications by Bernard Bosanquet. The papers of Helen Bosanquet include notes and correspondence for her memoir of Bernard Bosanquet, offprints from publications, correspondence relating to Helen Bosanquet's family and relating to public work, journals of travel, drawings, literary notebooks, photographs, engagement diaries and some undated miscellaneous material.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Bosanquet Papers consist of material relating both to Bernard Bosanquet, the philosopher, (1848-1923), and to his wife Helen Bosanquet, ne Dendy (1860-1926). Bernard Bosanquet was the youngest son of the Reverend Robert William Bosanquet of Rock Hall, Northumberland. He was educated at Harrow and went to Balliol College, Oxford, with the intention of entering the church after university. However, after graduating with first-class honours in Classical Moderations (1868) and Literae Humaniores (1870) he was elected to a fellowship at University College where he stayed to teach and research. In 1881, after the death of his father left him with a moderate income, he moved to London to concentrate on writing and to involve himself in social work.

For some time these were the main strands in his life and he began to publish essays and books on philosophical subjects. He became increasingly involved in the London Ethical Society (later the London School of Ethics and Social Philosophy), for which he lectured from 1886 to 1900. Many of the lectures were part of the University Extension Scheme, a cause he fervently supported, and whose lectures he gave in preference to those given at Oxford. He was a member, and later president, of the Aristotelian Society and was also engaged in work for the Charity Organisation Society. It was through this society that he met Helen Dendy and they were married in 1895 in Manchester. He was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 1907.

His other pursuits included a strong interest in botany, along with a keen love of literature and music.In 1899 the Bosanquets moved to Oxshott, Surrey to spend time away from some of the pressures exerted by their work in London, which was beginning to have a detrimental effect on their health.In 1903 Bosanquet took up the Chair of Moral Philosophy at St Andrews, a post he held for five years, returning to Oxshott in 1908 in order to continue with his writing. He remained at Oxshott until shortly before his death.

He received Honorary Degrees from the universities of Glasgow, Durham, Birmingham and St Andrews.

His most important works include the translation of R.H. Lotze's Logic and metaphysics (1884); Knowledge and Reality : a criticism of F.H. Bradley's Principles of logic(1885); Logic, or, The morphology of knowledge (1888); The psychology of the moral self (1897); A history of aesthetic (1904) along with many volumes of essays including The civilisation of Christendom and other studies (1893); The essential of logic : being ten lectures on judgement and inference (1895).

Helen Bosanquet was the daughter of the Reverend John Dendy and obtained first class honours in the Moral Sciences Tripos at Newnham College, Cambridge. Whilst living in London she became very involved in various aspects of social work, becoming the secretary to the Charity Organisation Society, lecturing as part of the University Extension Scheme and in 1905 becoming a member of the Royal Commission on Poor Laws and writing the subsequent report. Her publications include: Aspects of the social problem (1895); Rich and poor (1896); The standard of life and other studies (1898); The Poor Law report of 1909 : a summary explaining the defects of the present system and the principal recommendations of the Commission, so far as relates to England and Wales (1909); Bernard Bosanquet : a short account of his life (1924).


The papers were kept in three trunks and this arrangement has been retained :

  • BHB Trunk I/A-N Papers of Bernard Bosanquet
  • BHB Trunk II/A-N Papers of Helen Bosanquet
  • BHB Trunk III/1-15 Papers of Helen Bosanquet

Conditions Governing Access

Access is open to bona fide researchers; appointment in advance and proof of identity required.

Acquisition Information

Given by C.I.C. Bosanquet, great-nephew of Bernard and Helen Bosanquet in 1968.


Description complied by Helen Arkwright, Manuscripts and Archives Librarian, July 2001.

Other Finding Aids

Handlist to the papers available in the Enright Reading Room ref. : BHB;National Register of Archives ref. : NRA 16045 Bosanquet

Conditions Governing Use

Reproduction: The library can provide photocopies (to a limit of 30 at any one time) for educational and private research purposes, provided the condition of the document does not prevent copying. Alternatively, photographic or digital images can be produced for the same research purposes. Please contact the Special Collections Librarian for further advice (email:

Copyright: Permission to make published use of any material from Special Collections must be sought in writing from the Special Collections Librarian (email: and from the copyright owner if appropriate. The library will assist where possible with the identification of copyright owners, but the responsibility to obtain copyright clearance rests with the user.

Related Material

British Library Manuscript Collections : Add MS 55160 Correspondence of Bernard and Helen Bosanquet with Macmillans, 1885-1925.British Library Manuscript Collections : Add MS 55160 Correspondence of Bernard and Helen Bosanquet with Macmillans, 1885-1925.Manchester University: John Rylands Library : Alexander Papers Letters of Bernard Bosanquet to Samuel Alexander.


Bernard Bosanquet and his friends : letters illustrating the sources and the development of his philosphical opinions by John H. Muirhead. London : Allen & Unwin, 1935.Bernard Bosanquet : a short account of his life by Helen Bosanquet. London : Macmillan, 1924.