Sir Geoffrey Keynes: Notebooks

Scope and Content

Drafts and fair copies of writings and reviews, mainly on William Blake and medical subjects.

MS.Add.8828: An essay on William Blake, Illustrations of the book of Job, Sadler's Wells Ballet Books, No. 2, pp. 24-34; a description of copies of Blake's Jerusalem; and an article, 'The early recognition of malignant disease', in Sir Heneage Ogilvie, ed., The early recognition of disease (1949), pp. 97-102.

MS.Add.8829: An article, 'Jane Austen', in British book news, National Book League, 76 (1946), pp. 451-453; descriptions of William Blake's illuminated books, Songs of innocence and experience, Poetical sketches and Urizen; a copy of a letter to 'C.A. Tulk' on Blake's poems; notes on medical and surgical cases; an introduction to Thornton's Great medical book collectors; a copy of 'The history of blood transfusion', in Blood transfusion (1949), pp. 3-40; (running from the back of the notebook) medical notes; notes on Dunhill and on the thyroid; letters to 'Carus-Wilson' and to 'Spence' on the rebuilding of Bart's Hospital; comments on the formation of the Blake Trust; an essay on blood transfusion; a letter to the British Medical Journal on antithyroid drugs; notes on a Blake manuscript discovered in 1948 at Rothesay; notes on thyectomies (1948); the preface to Blake studies; and a letter to Lancet on the treatment of actinomycosis.

Administrative / Biographical History

Sir Geoffrey Langdon Keynes (1887-1982), surgeon, bibliographer and literary scholar, was born in Cambridge on 25 March 1887. His brother was John Maynard Keynes, later Lord Keynes. Geoffrey went to school at Rugby, before entering Pembroke College, Cambridge, in 1906, to study natural sciences. He trained at St Bartholomew's Hospital, and served in the Royal Army Medical Corps during World War I. After the war he became part of the surgical team at Bart's, where he was appointed assistant surgeon in 1928. During World War II he was consulting surgeon to the R.A.F., and was made acting Air Vice-Marshal in 1944. He retired from Bart's in 1952, and received a knighthood in 1955.

Keynes wrote many bibliographies and biographies. The subjects of his works include Jane Austen, Rupert Brooke, John Donne, John Evelyn, William Harvey, William Hazlitt, Siegfried Sassoon, Izaak Walton and, in particular, William Blake. His work on Thomas Willis remained uncompleted at his death. Keynes was also a great admirer of ballet, and wrote his own ballet, Job, with music by Ralph Vaughan Williams, which was first performed by the Camargo Society in 1931.

Access Information

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

Acquisition Information

Purchased 1989.


Description compiled by Robert Steiner, Department of Manuscripts and University Archives. The biographical history was compiled with reference to the entry on Keynes in Lord Blake and C.S. Nicholls, eds, Dictionary of national biography, 1981-1985 (Oxford University Press, 1990), pp. 224-226.

Other Finding Aids

Additional Manuscripts Summary Catalogue.

Related Material

Cambridge University Library also holds personal papers and correspondence of Keynes, MS.Add.8633, and editions of the children's magazine, The gem, which he produced with his siblings, MS.Add.9350.