Papers of James Blair Leishman on Andrew Marvell

Scope and Content

This collection comprises Leishman's notes and revised lectures which were brought to publication by John Butt as 'The art of Marvell's Poetry' published in 1966. It also features a number of letters to Leishman about his work on Marvell including from Philip Larkin and two letters (U DX72/10-11) date from his days as a student and were donated by D Miller, to whom they were both addressed.

Administrative / Biographical History

(James) Blair Leishman was senior lecturer in English literature at Oxford University and fellow of St John's College. During his early career he translated and edited German poetry producing editions of Rainer Maria Rilke. His work The monarch of wit: an analytical and comparative study of the poetry of John Donne appeared in 1951 and went through several editions. He also published on Milton's minor poems and Shakespeare's sonnets. In the latter part of his life he became interested in Andrew Marvell and when he died in August 1963 he was close to the completion of a book on Marvell's poetry. The manuscript existed in the form of a series of revised lectures and these were used by John Butt to publish The art of Marvell's Poetry posthumously in 1966.

The manuscript of Marvell's poetry then came into the hands of Leishman's half-brother, Harold Howie Borland, along with letters and notes made by Leishman over a period of thirteen years. Letters to him in this collection include three from J W Lever of the Hebrew University, Jerusalem (29 Dec 1952; 21 Mar 1953; 7 May 1953); one from Frank Kermode, editor of the new edition of Marvell's Miscellaneous Poems (15 Dec n.y.); one from Hugh Macdonald, another editor of Marvell's poems (19 May 1950); two from Charles Gullans (24 Jan 1955; 21 May 1955). These are all related to work on Marvell and there is some correspondence about the thesis on Marvell by K Scoular including two letters from her. There are four letters from H M Margoliouth, the editor of the definitive edition of Marvell's poetry and letters (11 Feb 1950; 16 Feb 1950; 22 Feb 1952; 8 Nov 1952) and one of these is written on the back of a letter from Leishman dated 21 Feb 1952. There is one interesting letter from John Woodward, keeper in the department of fine art at the Ashmolean Museum about paintings of Charles I and Henrietta Maria mentioned in a poem by Marvell. There are two letters in the collection from Harold Howie Borland to Leishman.

Access Information

Access will be granted to any accredited reader

Custodial History

Donated by Dr Harold Howie Borland, Department of Swedish, University of Hull, Jul 1970 [U DX72/1-9], 14 Nov 1980 [U DX72/13] and Jun 1981 [U DX72/14-15], and by D Miller, East Moseley, Nov 1978 [U DX72/10-12]

Related Material

Letters of Andrew Marvell [U DDFA/39/26-29]

Local Studies Library contains 200+ books on the poet and his work [Marvell Collection]


Leishman, J B, The art of Marvell's poetry (1966)