Robertson Papers

Scope and Content

The collection comprises correspondence and papers and covers Robertson's entire academic career. By far the largest part is the correspondence with Alexander Bain on the editing of Grote's 'Aristotle' and on plans for 'Mind'. There is also a group of letters from John Stuart Mill, mostly relating to the National Society for Women's Suffrage.

Administrative / Biographical History

George Croom Robertson was awarded a Ferguson Scholarship in classics and mental philosophy in October 1861 and attended lectures at University College London from 1861 to 1862. He went to Germany and studied in 1862 in Heidelberg and Berlin, in 1863 in Gottingen, and later in Paris. In 1864 he assisted Alexander Bain in revising 'The senses and the intellect' for a second edition. He also assisted Bain in revising 'The emotions and the will'; compiled the classification of the species of poetry and versification for Bain's 'Manual of English composition and rhetoric' (London, 1866); and later assisted Bain with parts of the manual of ethics for 'Mental and moral science' (London, 1868). In September 1864 he was appointed Assistant to Professor Geddes at Aberdeen University, and lectured on Greek for the two following sessions. He was elected to the Chair of Mental Philosophy and Logic at University College London in December 1866. He began working on Hobbes; part of the result of his researches appeared in the article on Hobbes for the 'Encyclopaedia Britannica' and part appeared in Volume 10 of Backwood's 'Philosophical Classics for English readers' (London, 1886). From 1868 to 1873 and again from 1883 to 1888 he was an examiner in philosophy in the University of London. From 1870 to 1876 he was a member of the Committee of the London National Society for Womens' Suffrage. In 1871 he took the principal share in a posthumous edition of Grote's 'Aristotle' (with Bain). In 1872 he married Caroline Anna Crompton. Bain first mentioned the founding of a quarterly journal of philosophy in 1874, and Robertson accepted the editorship. At first they hoped to bring out the journal, entitled 'Quarterly review of mental science', in 1875: it finally appeared in January 1876 with the revised title 'Mind'. Various articles by Robertson on Abelard, Analogy, Analysis, Analytic judgements, Autonymy, Association, Axiom, and Hobbes appeared in the 'Encyclopaedia Britannica' in 1875. From 1877 to 1878 Robertson was an examiner for the Moral Sciences Tripos in Cambridge. In 1880 he experienced his first onset of serious illness. In 1886 he was elected to serve on the Council of the College. In April 1888 he tried to resign his professorship but this was not accepted by the Council: it was finally accepted in May 1892. In 1891 he resigned as Editor of 'Mind'. In May 1892 Mrs Robertson died, and Robertson died in September of the same year.


Arranged chronologically. The Bain and Mill letters are kept separate from the general correspondence.

Access Information


The papers are available subject to the usual conditions of access to Archives and Manuscripts material, after the completion of a Reader's Undertaking.

Acquisition Information

Presented by Professor Sir C Grant Robertson in April 1946.

Other Finding Aids

A more detailed list and name index is available. Plese contact Special Collections for further information

Conditions Governing Use

Normal copyright restrictions apply.