Papers of John Swinnerton Phillimore, 1873-1926; classical scholar and poet; Professor of Greek 1899-1906 and Professor of Humanity, 1906-1926, University of Glasgow, Scotland

Scope and Content

  • Literary and personal correspondence 1897-1926;
  • Notebook 1896-1899.

Administrative / Biographical History

John Swinnerton Phillimore was born at Boconnoc, Cornwall, England, on 26 February 1873  , fourth son of Vice-Admiral Sir Augustus Phillimore of Shedfield, Hampshire, and his wife Harriet Eleanor Foirtescue. He was educated at Westminster, where he won a scholarship to Christ Church, University of Oxford, Oxford, England. He was a distinguished student at Oxford, gaining first classes in Classical Moderations (1893) and Literae Humaniores (1895); and winning the Hertford and Craven Scholarships (1892), the Ireland Scholarship (1893), and the Chancellor's Prize for Latin Verse (1894). He was also a leading figure at the Oxford Union, becoming President in 1895. He was appointed Lecturer at Christ Church in 1895, Student in 1896, and Tutor in 1898. In addition to being a classical scholar he was also a distinguished poet.

In 1899  , he was appointed to the Chair of Greek at the University of Glasgow Scotland, succeeding Professor Gilbert Murray, and in 1906  he was transferred to the Chair of Humanity, in succession to Professor George Gilbert Ramsay. He was active for a time in political life in the West of Scotland as a Liberal Imperialist, serving as President of the College Division Liberal Association in Glasgow, Vice-President of the Glasgow & West of Scotland Liberal League, and a member of the Council of the Liberal League. He was one of the contributors to a volume of Essays in Liberalism by Six Oxford Men (1897). He published a number of translations, including Musa Clauda (1898) (a collection of versions from English into Latin elegiac verse); Mikhail Lermenov's novel A Hero of Nowadays (1921) from Russian into English; and Philostratus' Apollonius of Tyana (1912) from Greek into English. After his appointment as Professor of Humanity he became a regular contributor to the Classical Quarterly, the Classical Review,Mnemosyne, and other periodicals, contributing mainly linguistic and textual notes on Latin authors.

He also published a number of papers and addresses on classical subjects, including The Greek Romances,English Literature and the Classics (1912); Some remarks on translation and Translators, (1919); The Revival of Critism, (1919); Ille Ego (1920); and Pastoral and Allegory (1925). A book containing poems which he had written up to that year was published in (1902), with a second volume, under the title Things Old and New (1918). In 1906, he was received into the Roman Catholic Church. One of his noted contributions to the Dublin Review was an essay entitled Blessed Thomas More and the Arrest of Humanism in England (1912). Among his other works was an unfinished work on Christian Latin Poetry, and a selection entitled The Hundred Best Latin Hymns published as a popular series in (1926).

As a member of the Franco-Scottish Society he delivered addresses on the cultural relations of Great Britain with France and Germany at the Universities of Bordeaux and Toulouse and at the Sorbonne. In the West of Scotland he was a noted public speaker and lecturer. His scholarship was recognised in the conferment of an honorary LLD by the University of St. Andrews, Scotland, (1917) and an honorary Litt.D by Trinity College Dublin (1921) and by his appointment to the Sather Professorship in Classics at the University of California (1914-1915) - although the outbreak of World War I prevented him from taking up this appointment. In 1900, he married Cecily Spencer-Smith, and they had one son and one daughter. He died at Shefdield, Hampshire on 16 November 1926  .


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Related Material

GB 452 19th century papers of the Barons Phillimore (Christ Church Archives)

GB 046 NRA 15864 Estate papers (Hertfordshire Record Office)

GB 041 115M88/c96-7, F30 Family papers (Hampshire Record Office)

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Additional Information

Description compiled in line with the following international standards: International Council on Archives,ISAD(G) Second Edition, September 1999 and National Council on Archives,Rules for the construction of personal, place and corporate names

Scotland is the location of all place names in the administrative/biographical history element, unless otherwise stated.

Fonds level description compiled by members of Glasgow University Archive Services staff.

Geographical Names