Sir Richard Owen: Letters and Papers

Scope and Content

A series of letters mostly addressed to Sir Richard Owen, with a few autographs collected by him.

Administrative / Biographical History

Sir Richard Owen (1804-1892) was born on 20 July 1804 at Lancaster, and attended the local grammar school. He became an apprentice to the first of three surgeons in 1820, before matriculating at Edinburgh University in 1824. He left Edinburgh before taking his degree to join St Bartholomew's Hospital, London, where he became prosector to John Abernethy in 1825. He passed the membership examination for the Royal College of Surgeons in 1826, and set up his own private practice. Owen became a lecturer on anatomy at St Bartholomew's in 1829, and was first Hunterian professor of comparative anatomy and physiology, 1836-1856. He was a conservator at the Hunterian Museum of the Royal College of Surgeons, 1827-1856. In 1856 he joined the British Museum as the superintendent of the natural history collections, a position he held until 1883. Owen died on 18 December 1892.

Access Information

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

Acquisition Information

Presented by the Revd Richard Owen, 1912.


Description compiled by Robert Steiner, Department of Manuscripts and University Archives. The biographical history was compiled with reference to the entry on Owen in Sidney Lee, ed., Dictionary of national biography, Vol. XIV (London, 1909), pp. 1329-1338.

Other Finding Aids

Additional Manuscripts Catalogue. Full details are available in the Manuscripts Reading Room.