Papers of William Beckford, 1787-1811

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 161 MSS. Eng. lett. c. 499-501; Eng. misc. e. 1236; Portuguese c. 1
  • Dates of Creation
  • Language of Material
      English, and Portuguese.
  • Physical Description
      5 shelfmarks

Scope and Content

The papers consist of correspondence, a commonplace book and an agreement for the purchase by Beckford of a house in Lisbon. The papers relate to Beckford's affairs in Jamaica and Portugal.

Administrative / Biographical History

William Beckford (1760-1844) was the author of the oriental tale Vathek and of several volumes of travel writings, the builder of Fonthill Abbey, and an important collector of paintings, objets d'art and books. Details are given in the Dictionary of National Biography.

Access Information

Entry to read in the Library is permitted only on presentation of a valid reader's card (for admissions procedures see

Acquisition Information

The papers were bequeathed to the Library by Boyd Alexander, 1980.


Collection level description created by Emily Tarrant, Department of Special Collections and Western Manuscripts.

Other Finding Aids

A full description is available in the Library.

Custodial History

The papers were bought by Boyd Alexander in 1968 and 1975, except for MS. Eng. lett. c. 501, which was bequeathed by Charles Robin Hollway to Gerald Wellesley in 1921.

Related Material

See also:

  • Papers of William Beckford (1760-1844), author (MSS. Beckford a. 1-4, b. 1-8, c. 1-89, d. 1-29, e. 1-5, f. 1-5, g. 1-2)
  • Papers of Boyd Alexander relating to William Beckford (MSS. Eng. lett. c. 687-95; Eng. misc. c. 888-93, d. 1288-98, e. 1446-58, f. 857-8; Facs. d. 291; Film 1766; Photogr. c. 5, d. 2; Top. gen. a. 23, fols. 1-2).
  • Papers of John Hodgkin (MSS. Eng. misc. c. 146-8, d. 218-25, e. 198, f. 59-61; Lat. misc. d. 55-62, e. 84; Eng. lett. c. 11, d. 36)