Correspondence of Walter Bagehot

Scope and Content

The collection contains correspondence of Walter Bagehot with Eliza Wilson, his future wife, with her father James Wilson the founder of The Economist, and also with F.B. Batten his partner in the Bank of Stuckey's Banking Company. The correspondence dates to the 6 months prior to the marriage of Bagehot and Eliza which took place in April 1858. Subjects discussed include Bagehot's literary work, Bagehot's business concerns, Eliza's health and treatment under a Mr Beveridge of Edinburgh, visits to see Eliza, the couples feelings for each other, arrangements for the wedding, search for a house for the newly wedded couple to live in. In this period Eliza was residing in Edinburgh with her sister Sophy in order to receive treatment from Mr Beveridge for headaches and eye strain. At the end of her treatment she went to stay in London with her family for a short time before returning to the family home of Claverton Manor nr Bath, Somerset. Bagehot was residing at his house Herds Hill nr Langport, Somerset, and working at Stuckey's Banking Company in Bristol. Bagehot visited Eliza several times in the period, at Edinburgh, London, and Claverton Manor nr Bath. The couple were married from Claverton on 21 April 1858.

Note that this correspondence was later edited by E.I. Barrington and published in 1933 under the title 'The love letters of Walter Bagehot and Eliza Wilson'. Please note that the following which appear in the edited volume Barrington, Emilie Isabel (ed.), The love-letters of Walter Bagehot and Eliza Wilson (London : Faber, 1933) are now missing: Poem 'Orithyia' which accompanied letter of 22 Nov 1857; 2 Feb 1858; 9 Feb 1858; 11 Feb 1858; 14 Feb 1858; 16 Feb 1858; 24 Feb 1858; Fragment Mar 1858; 16 Mar 1858. Note also that the letter from Matthew Arnold dated 27 Oct 1857 which accompanied his letter of 4 Jan 1858 is also missing as are two letters to his mother of 21 Apr 1858 and 23 Apr 1858 all of which appear in the edited volume above.

Administrative / Biographical History

Walter Bagehot was a noted journalist, essayist and banker, who was the second editor of The Economist and wrote widely on political and economic affairs. Bagehot was born into a family of merchants and bankers on 3 Feb 1826 in Langport, Somerset. In his early years he attended Langport Grammar School before being sent to Bristol College at the age of 13. His university education was conducted at University College London where he gained a first class degree in 1846 and went on to complete an MA in moral and intellectual philosophy in 1848. Although educated in law and called to the English Bar in 1852, Bagehot took up work as a banker in the firm of Stuckey & Co. alongside his father. During this time he was able to pursue his passion for literature and wrote on many subjects. His writings on financial and economic matters attracted the attention of James Wilson, the founder of The Economist in 1843, and at the time financial secretary to the treasury in Lord Palmerston's government. They became acquainted and through this acquaintance Bagehot met Wilson's daughter Eliza whom he married in April 1858. In politics he was a declared Liberal but inspite of close relationships with various politicians of the time he stood unsuccessfully in several elections and so never entered politics himself. His literary achievements however were substantial. Following the death of James Wilson in India in 1860 Bagehot became the editor of The Economist in which position he remained for 17 years. He also wrote and published works titled The English Constitution (1867), Physics and Politics (1872), Lombard Street (1873), Literary Studies (1879), and Economic Studies (1880). The latter two works were published posthumously as Bagehot died on the 24 March 1877 at the age of 51 having battled throughout his life with ill health. Although he had lived most of his life in London he was buried back in Langport, Somerset, where he had been born.


Collection is arranged into the following 4 series:

U DX123/1 Letters from Walter Bagehot to Eliza Wilson, 10 Nov 1857-1 Feb 1858

U DX123/2 Letters from Eliza Wilson to Walter Bagehot, 11 Nov 1857-16 Apr 1858

U DX123/3 Letters from James Wilson to Walter Bagehot, 26 Sep 1857-1 Oct 1857

U DX123/4 Letters from F.B. Batten to Walter Bagehot, 1 Apr 1858

Access Information

Access will be granted to any accredited reader

Custodial History

Deposited by Faber & Faber Ltd., 23 February 1977

Related Material

Hull University Library holds the following works relating to Walter Bagehot:

Bagehot, Walter, Bagehot's historical essays (London : Dennis Dobson, 1971) Ref: DA 530 B1

Bagehot, Walter, Biographical studies Ref: DA 300 B1

Bagehot, Walter, Economic studies (London : Longmans, 1895) Ref: HB 171 B1

Bagehot, Walter, Literary studies (London : Dent, 1911) Ref: PR 401 B1

Bagehot, Walter, Lombard Street : a description of the money market (London : Murray, 1915) Ref: HG 3020 L8 B1

Bagehot, Walter, Physics and politics, or, Thoughts on the application of the principles of "natural selection" and " (London : Kegan Paul, Trench & Co., [1896?]) Ref: JC 223 B14 P5

Bagehot, Walter, The collected works of Walter Bagehot (London : The Economist, 1965-86) Ref: DA 565 B1 vols1-3

Bagehot, Walter, The English constitution (London : Fontana, 1993) Ref: JC 223 B14 E5

Barrington, Emilie Isabel, Life of Walter Bagehot (London : Longmans, Green, 1914) Ref: DA 565 B1 B2

Barrington, Emilie Isabel (ed.), The love-letters of Walter Bagehot and Eliza Wilson (London : Faber, 1933) DA 565 B1

Saint John-Stevas, Norman Anthony Francis, Walter Bagehot (London : Longmans, Green, 1963) Ref: DA 565 B1 S1