Halliwell Letters

Scope and Content

Five letters to W P Hunt, concerning Halliwell's publication 'Selected notes upon Shakespeare's comedy of "The Tempest"'.

Administrative / Biographical History

James Orchard Halliwell: born, 1820; educated privately; Trinity College Cambridge, 1837; removed to Jesus College, 1838; Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, 1839; Fellow of the Royal Society, 1839; member of the Astronomical Society and of European and American antiquarian societies; catalogued manuscripts in the Royal Society library; founder and first secretary of the Cambridge Antiquarian Society; left Cambridge without a degree; printed a catalogue of his collection of manuscripts, but financial pressure forced him to sell, 1840; concentrated his studies on Shakespeare; with the antiquary Thomas Wright published ten numbers of The Archaeologist and Journal of Antiquarian Science, 1841-1842; catalogued manuscripts at the Chetham Library, Manchester, 1841-1842; married the daughter of the antiquary Sir Thomas Phillipps, 1842; Phillipps ceased contact with the couple, whose financial circumstances were difficult; manuscripts from his collection purchased c1843 by the British Museum were found to have belonged to Trinity College Cambridge, 1844; Halliwell was readmitted to the Museum, 1846; involvement in lawsuits caused repeated financial losses; often constrained to auction his collections; arranged records at Stratford, 1862; initiated the movement for purchasing properties on the site of Shakespeare's residence, 1863; joint secretary of the committee to celebrate the tercentenary of Shakespeare's birth, 1863-1864; the death of his father-in-law gave his wife possession of estates in Worcestershire, and Halliwell could indulge his passion for collecting, 1867; abandoned critical study and devoted himself to studying Shakespeare's life, 1870-1889; following his wife's accident in 1872, assumed the additional surname Phillipps, and took over management of her property, improving and then selling the estates; purchased property near Brighton for a house, 1877-1878; married again, 1879; honorary LLD, Edinburgh University, 1883; died, 1889; donated books and manuscripts to many libraries during his life, and bequeathed papers to Edinburgh University Library. Publications: numerous publications from 1838 until his death, comprising commentaries and editions of various medieval and later texts, including some for the Camden Society, the Percy Society, and the Shakespeare Society; catalogues of his own and other collections of books and manuscripts; histories of various institutions and places, notably Stratford-upon-Avon; lexicographical works; and many publications on Shakespeare, including his Life of William Shakespeare first published in 1848, and editions of his plays.

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

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Related Material

University College London Special Collections also holds the Halliwell Papers (Ref: MS Ogden 72) and the Halliwell Catalogue (Ref: MS Ogden 71)