The Works and Papers of Aleyn Lyell Reade

Scope and Content

The Aleyn Lyell Reade collection, held at the Special Collections and Archives at the University of Liverpool, contains all the work-related papers bequeathed to the university in 1951. Although some personal documents survive, the majority of the material held here relates to Reade's researches into the origins and early life of Dr Johnson, the Reade family and its associated families, and various other works of a similar nature, as well as contributions to newspapers on these and other topics, including aspects of Liverpool life and culture. The collection contains a vast number of letters, pedigrees and manuscript and typescript notes; printed and bound volumes, newspaper cuttings and articles, maps and portraits. Further details are given in the lower series, including details of families discusses in various sections and the correspondents who have letters featured in particular parts of the collection.

Administrative / Biographical History

Aleyn Lyell Reade, 1876-1953 . The youngest son of Thomas Mellard Reade, the Liverpool geologist and architect, and of Emma Eliza, the daughter of William Treleaven Fox, Aleyn Lyell Reade was born at Blundellsands in Lancashire on 23 April 1876 . He was educated at the Merchant Taylors' School in Great Crosby. Between 1916  and 1919  he served as a rifleman and, later, a postcorporal on the Western Front, with 2/6 King's Liverpool Rifles.

Reade displayed a great interest in the history, culture and social nature of his local environment, often contributing to various Liverpool publications, and, at one time, planning to compose a work discussing the lives of Liverpool's great literary figures. He also wrote articles and contributions in various national papers and periodicals, such as The Times Literary Supplement and Notes and Queries. He was interested in genealogy, and compiled a history of his own family, which was privately printed as The Reades of Blackwood Hill and Dr Johnson's Ancestry by the Arden Press in 1906 . This work was significant because it displayed a link between the Reade s and the maternal ancestry of Dr Samuel Johnson, the eighteenth-century lexicographer. This led Reade into a life-long study of the origins and early life of Samuel Johnson, investigating many aspects of his life, and also the history of many Lichfield families of the period, with whom Johnson was either related, or came into contact with. His extensive research led to the production of the ambitious, eleven-volume series, Johnsonian Gleanings, which was privately printed for Reade between 1909  and 1952 . His research led him into correspondence with a large number of individuals, both at home and abroad, who were all involved in the study of Johnson, including R W Chapman, L F Powell, James L Clifford, Ernest A Sadler, Percy Laithwaite and W B Bickley. He became known as the leading exponent on the early life of Samuel Johnson, and was awarded honorary Master's degrees from Oxford in 1935  and from Liverpool in 1939 . Amongst his other works was a series of pedigrees of the Audley family, and a history of the Mellards and their descendants. Never married, he died on 28 March 1953 .

For further information, see The Single Talent, 1947 , Reade's autobiography, at ALR.A.1.1 ; and Who Was Who, Vol. V , 1951 -- 1960 , London, 1961 , p. 911.


The original order of the papers has been preserved as far as possible, although certain alterations and new divisions have occurred. The series containing all of Reade's volumes has been moved from the end to the beginning of the collection. The original collection's section C series contained all paper documents apart from those relating to the Audley family. The ordering of these papers has been maintained, but divisions have been introduced. There are only two exceptions: the series of English correspondence has been moved forward through the C series, and is now with other letters from correspondents of other lands, and the papers of the Audley family, the collection's original E series, have now been moved and are collected together with the other genealogical papers.

The series begins with the ALR.A  series, which contains printed and bound volumes. This contains the collection's original A, B and D series.

The second series, ALR.B , contains the correspondence to Reade of a general nature. This contained the collection's original CI, CII and CXXVIII series.

The third series, ALR.C , contains all genealogical material, relating to various families, but without specific reference to Johnson or, in most part, the Reade family. This series contains the collection's original CIII- CXII series, and the E series.

The fourth series, ALR.D , contains papers relating to Johnsonian research and the Reade family. This contains the collection's original CXIX, CXX, CXII, CXXV, CXXVI, CXXVII, CXXIX- CXXXVIII series. The collection had no original CXXIII or CXXIV series.

All of the original call numbers for the items are given where relevant. Some of the material is bundle-listed, but most is described to item level. Further details are given in the relevant series below.

The fifth series, ALR.E , this addition to the Alleyn Lyell Reade Papers comprises letters, handwritten notes, postcards and a small amount of news clippings, invoices and photographs relating to research for the Index of Johnsonian Gleanings.

Access Information

Access is open to bona fide researchers

Acquisition Information

The Aleyn Lyell Reade archive was bequeathed to the University of Liverpool by Reade in September 1951 .

Archivist's Note

The Alan Lyell Reade Archive was extensively relisted in 2002  by Peter Lester this involved the re-organistation and numbering of the collection.

Separated Material

Special Collections and Archives also holds the following volume which was written by Reade but is not part of the ALR collection:

The Mellards and their Descendants, with Memoirs of Dinah Maria Mulock and Thomas Mellard Reade, 1915 , at: SPEC S/CS439.M.R28.

Conditions Governing Use

Reproduction and Licensing rules available on request


There are no anticipated accruals

Related Material

Special Collections and Archives also holds the papers of Aleyn Lyell Reade's father, Thomas Mellard Read.