Bentham (Denis Roy) Papers

Scope and Content

Miscellaneous items of correspondence, manuscripts and printed ephemera, relating to Jeremy Bentham, other members of the Bentham family, and Sir John Bowring, or otherwise associated with radical political thought or with the name Bentham, 1776-1999. Also icludes a file of correspondence and papers of C K Ogden, 1924-1953, mainly re: Jeremy Bentham and some further papers of D R Bentham relating to his collection, 1953-1999.

Administrative / Biographical History

D R Bentham served in the armed forces in the Second World War, and subsequently spent his working life as a Post Office employee in his home town of Loughborough. For much of his life (from the 1950s until his death) he was an inveterate collector of books, manuscripts, prints and artefacts acquired from various dealers and auction houses. His collection interests were wide-ranging, including local history and mechanical toys, but the core of the collection comprised the items relating to Jeremy Bentham and the Bentham family, and more generally to radical and reformist politics.

D R Bentham's interest in Jeremy Bentham doubtless arose from the coincidence of surname (though they were not in fact related): and perhaps also from his own radical leanings (he was at one time a member of the Communist Party of Great Britain). He established contact with the Bentham Project at UCL in the 1970s, if not earlier, and regularly supplied the Project with photographs of new acquisitions: as a result, it has been possible to include many relevant items in the published 'Correspondence of Jeremy Bentham'.

D R Bentham died on 23 June 1999.

See also S R Conway, 'The D R Bentham Collection', 'The Bentham Newsletter,' no. 11, June 1987, pp 51-2.

Access Information


The papers are available subject to the usual conditions of access to Archives and Manuscripts material, after the completion of a Reader's Undertaking.

Acquisition Information

Donated to UCL by Mrs Eileen Wardle, in memory of her brother, D R Bentham, postal worker and collector, Sep and Oct 1999.

Other Finding Aids

A more detailed hard copy handlist is available. Please contact Special Collections for further information

Custodial History

Although the Bentham papers in the collection were acquired from a number of different sources, many appear to have been formerly in the collection of Sir John Bowring (dispersed in the 1930s): they show evidence of having been affixed in an album, and/or bear standardised dates in pencil.


Several items in the collection have been published, or relate closely to published work. Relevant publications are as follows:'The Correspondence of Jeremy Bentham' (London and Oxford, 1968)Jeremy Bentham, 'Chrestomathia', ed. M J Smith and W H Burston (Oxford, 1983)I R Christie, 'The Benthams in Russia, 1780-1791' (Providence/Oxford, 1993)Catherine Fuller (ed.) 'The Old Radical: Representations of Jeremy Bentham' (UCL, 1998).