Poems by George Crabbe

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 133 Eng MS 1242
  • Dates of Creation
      Early 19th century
  • Name of Creator
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      198 x 120 mm. 1 volume (ii + 37 + ii folios); Binding: half-morocco binding, tooled in gilt: 'Jane & Lucy. MS. By George Crabbe'.

Scope and Content

Volume containing manuscripts of Crabbe's poems, The Flowers of the Spring, The Sisters, To Lady Jersey and La Belle Dame Sans Merci. The volume is entitled: Jane, and Lucy, and other Poems by George Crabbe, M.A., 1817 (on folio 2, facing which is an engraving of the Phillips portrait). It comprises:

  • (a) folios 3-4: [The Flowers of the Spring] begins The Crocus new expanded mourns, two drafts (folios 3-3v and 4), with numerous emendations, headed March 1817. Printed from this manuscript by Adolphus William Ward in George Crabbe: Poems, 3 volumes (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1905-7), vol. 3 , p. 508, who does not, however, note the emendations;
  • (b) folios 4v-9v: a draft, with numerous emendations, of lines 196-254 (folios 4v-5v, headed Bath, April 1817) and 33-195 (folios 5v-9v, headed Jane and Lucy) of The Sisters (Book VIII of Tales of the Hall). Cf. Ward, op. cit., vol. 3, pp. 396-401 and 492-4; Ward's claim to note the variants cited in this draft can hardly be substantiated, as he fails to record most of them;
  • (c) folio 10: To Lady Jersey, March 4, 1814, begins Of all the Subjects poetry commands. Cf. Ward, op. cit., vol. 3, p. 435; he only notes some of the emendations;
  • (d) folio 10v: [La Belle Dame Sans Merci], begins And prophecied [sic] of years to come. Printed from this manuscript by Ward, op. cit., vol. 3, p. 509;
  • (e) folios 13-33: proof and other engravings of illustrations by Henry Corbould (9), Richard Westall (1), and Clarkson Stanfield (1) to editions of Crabbe's Poems.
 Pasted on folios 11r, 12r and 37r, are press-cuttings relating to Crabbe. Folios 11v, 12v, 34-36 and 37v are blank.

Administrative / Biographical History

George Crabbe (1754-1832), poet and Church of England clergyman, was born on 24 December 1754 in Aldeburgh, Suffolk. After working for several years as an apothecary and surgeon's assistant at Woodbridge and Aldeburgh, in 1779 he gave up medicine and went to London to try his fortune as an author. His early attempts at writing included a poem called The Hero on Prince William Henry, the youngest son of George III, and The Library, which was published in 1871.

Crabbe finally decided on a career in the church and he was ordained as a deacon in Norwich in December 1781. He was licensed curate to the Reverend James Bennet, rector of Aldeburgh. In 1782 he was appointed domestic chaplain to the Duke of Rutland and moved to Belvoir Castle. On 4 August he was ordained as a priest. In 1785 Crabbe became curate of the parish of Stathern, where he remained for four years. He received the LLB degree, in January 1789 and the livings of Muston in Leicestershire and West Allington in Lincolnshire, neighbouring parishes near Belvoir Castle.

The following summer Crabbe was asked by John Nichols to assist in the compilation of his monumental History and Antiquities of Leicestershire (8 volumes, 1795-1815). Crabbe also produced The natural history of the vale of Belvoir, first published in 1790 in Nichols's Bibliotheca Topographica Britannica. Crabbe contributed extensively to other parts of Nichols's History.

In 1792 Crabbe went to Parham, Suffolk, where he became a non-resident rector of his parishes. He continued his work for Nichols on the Leicestershire History and provided a catalogue of plants growing in and about the parish of Framlingham as an appendix to Hawes and Lodor's History of Framlingham (1798), and he supplied many notes for Turner and Dilwyn's The Botanist's Guide through England and Wales (1805). In 1805 he returned to the rectory at Muston and worked on The Parish Register which he published along with Sir Eustace Grey, a revised version of The Library, reprints of The Village and The News-Paper, and some shorter poems, in a volume entitled Poems (1807). In 1810 Crabbe published The Borough and, in 1812, Tales, twenty-one discrete narratives.

In 1814 George Crabbe was instituted to the living of Croxton-Kerrial and Trowbridge. He became a member of the Literary Society in 1819 and was admitted to the Athenaeum in 1824. He died at the rectory at Trowbridge on 3 February 1832.

Source: Thomas C. Faulkner, 'Crabbe, George (1754-1832)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004. By permission of Oxford University Press - http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/6552.

Conditions Governing Access

The manuscript is available for consultation by any accredited reader.

Acquisition Information

Purchased by the John Rylands Library at auction at Hodgson's on 30 July 1959 (Lot 243).


Description compiled by Jo Humpleby, project archivist, with reference to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography article on George Crabbe.

Other Finding Aids

Catalogued in the Hand-List of the Collection of English Manuscripts in the John Rylands Library, 1952-1970 (English MS 1242).

Custodial History

Former owners: John Bullock; Mrs Mackay of Trowbridge, Wiltshire (see Ward, op. cit., vol. 3, p. xi, vol. 2, p. v); Miss Ethel Mackay (letter to her inserted in front). Also inserted at the front is a typescript List of Exhibits at the Crabbe Exhibition at the Rectory, Feb. 3rd. 1932.

Related Material

Papers of George Crabbe are widely dispersed: see the National Register of Archives at http://www.nra.nationalarchives.gov.uk/nra/searches/pidocs.asp?P=P6812.


For other works by Crabbe, see Tony Bareham and Simon Gatrell, A bibliography of George Crabbe (Folkestone: Dawson/Archon, 1978).