Elizabeth Lyttelton: Commonplace book

Scope and Content

A manuscript commonplace book, 87 leaves, containing poetical extracts, prose fragments and religious aphorisms and verse, written from both ends of the volume. The book was kept for the benefit of the daughters of Sir Thomas Browne, and was principally the property of his daughter Elizabeth. It contains pieces by and relating to Sir Thomas Browne, including a poem and piece of prose by him, although none of the writing is in Browne's hand. The name of his daughter Mary (d. 1676) is written on the flyleaf at both ends of the volume.

Administrative / Biographical History

Elizabeth Lyttelton was born around 1648, the daughter of Sir Thomas Browne (1605-1682), physician and author. In 1680 she married Captain George Lyttelton, youngest son of Sir Thomas Lyttleton, Bart, and in 1681 settled with her husband in Guernsey.

Access Information

Open for consultation by holders of a Reader's Ticket valid for the Manuscripts Reading Room.

Acquisition Information

Received from the library of Sir Geoffrey Keynes, 1982.


Description compiled by Robert Steiner, Department of Manuscripts and University Archives.

Other Finding Aids


Custodial History

An inscription on the last leaf of the book records that is was presented by Elizabeth Lyttelton to her first cousin, Edward Tension (1673-1735), in March 1714. On the first leaf of the volume is the name James Dodsley, who may also have owned the book.

Related Material

Cambridge University Library holds a manuscript version of Sir Thomas Browne's Religio medici, MS.Add.8459.


The commonplace book of Elizabeth Lyttelton was published by Cambridge University Press in 1919. The book is no. 1301 in Sir Geoffrey Keynes, Bibliotheca bibliographici (London, 1964), p. 134.