Collection of Correspondence of John Aitken Carlyle (1801-1879)

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 237 Coll-130
  • Dates of Creation
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      circa 13 letters.
  • Location
      Dc.2.76/3; Dc.4.94/67-72; Dc.4.104/3, ff. 16-17; Gen. 1730 Carlyle 92-93; Gen. 1731 Lietch; Mic.M.135; E87.104; E90.66; E92.52; E97.11

Scope and Content

The correspondence is composed of: notes to Chapman and Hall, 1857, on copies of his brother's works; letters to D. Lietch, 1865; letter to Alexander Gibson, 1866; letters to the Rev. David Aitken, 1866-1869; letters to Eliza Stodart, 1867; microfilmed copies of letters to Mr. Constable, 1867 and 1878, and to Dr. Brown, 1871; letters to Charles Butler, 1864-1873; letters and photo, 1850-1869; letters to H. B. Wheatley, 1870; and, testimonial in favour of J. H. Stirling, 1868.

Administrative / Biographical History

John Aitken Carlyle, brother of Thomas Carlyle, was born in Ecclefechan, Dumfriesshire, on 7 July 1801. Like Thomas Carlyle, John Aitken Carlyle was a teacher in Annan. His brother supported him to study at Edinburgh University and in Germany and London after which he tried to become a doctor. In 1831 he became physician to the Countess of Clare, and he also practised for a time in Rome. In 1838 he became physician to the Duke of Buccleuch. In 1849 he began publishing translations of Dante's work. Carlyle also spent a lot of time studying Icelandic language and literature. Dr. John Aitken Carlyle died in Dumfries on 15 December 1879.

Access Information

Generally open for consultation to bona fide researchers, but please contact repository for details in advance.

Acquisition Information

Lietch letter, acquired April 1975, Accession no. E75.19. Chapman and Hall note, acquired Sotheby January 1981, Accession no. E81.4. Letters, Butler, acquired December 1987, Accession no. E87.104. Letters, 1875, acquired June 1990, Accession no. E90.66. Letters to Wheatley, acquired September 1992, Accession no. E92.52. Letters acquired February 1997, Accession no. E97.11.


The biographical/administrative history was compiled using the following material: (1) Stephen Leslie, and Lee, Sidney (eds.). Dictionary of national biography. London: Smith, Elder and Co., 1908.

Compiled by Graeme D Eddie, Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections Division.

Other Finding Aids

Important finding aids generally are: the alphabetical Index to Manuscripts held at Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections and Archives, consisting of typed slips in sheaf binders and to which additions were made until 1987; and the Index to Accessions Since 1987.


Check the local Indexes for details of any additions.

Related Material

The local Indexes show various references to John Aitken Carlyle related material in the Laing Collection (check the Indexes for more details): letters to D. Laing, 1861-1877, at La.IV.17. In addition, the UK National Register of Archives (NRA), updated by the Historical Manuscripts Commission, notes: journal, 1834-1835, National Library of Scotland, Manuscripts Division, and correspondence, 1817-1879, Ref. MSS 511-28, 601-08, 665, 1763-77, 1797, 2883-84, 3112, 3218, 3278, 3823, and Italian journal and family and miscellaneous correspondence, 1832, 1822-1879, Ref. II/2 and passim NRA 30963 Carlyle, and letters to J.S. Blackie, 1849-1866, Ref. MSS 2622-27; and, letters to Gudbrandr Vigfusson, circa 1865-1879, Oxford University, Bodleian Library, Special Collections and Western Manuscripts, Ref. MS Eng misc d 131.