The 'Merton' and 'Dowden' manuscripts of the sermons of John Donne

Scope and Content

The 'Merton' and 'Dowden' manuscripts of the sermons of John Donne, used by G.R. Potter and E.M. Simpson in The sermons of John Donne (10 vols., Berkeley & Los Angeles, 1953-62), and the 'Dowden' manuscript of Donne's poems, used by Sir Herbert Grierson in The poems of John Donne (2 vols., Oxford, 1912) and by Dame Helen Gardner in The divine poems (2nd ed., Oxford, 1978).

Administrative / Biographical History

See the Dictionary of National Biography for information on Edward Dowden.

Conditions Governing Access

Entry to read in the Library is permitted only on presentation of a valid reader's card (for admissions procedures see

Acquisition Information

Given to the Library in 1960.


Collection level description created by Susan Thomas, Department of Special Collections and Western Manuscripts.

Other Finding Aids

Summary Catalogue of Post-Medieval Western Manuscripts in the Bodleian Library Oxford. Acquisitions 1916-1975. (Oxford, 1991), vol. II, nos. 46601-3.

Custodial History

The 'Merton' MS. was owned by a H.F. during the 17th cent; in the 19th century the MS. appears to have been the property of Mr J.P. Collier, whose address is inscribed inside the upper cover.

The first 'Dowden' MS., MS. Eng. th. e. 102, was given by [William] Gregg of Ilkeston Park to ?J.W., [possibly John Wylson, rector of Ilkeston, Derbs.], 29 May 1683. Both Dowden MSS. were later owned by Edward Dowden. All three MSS were subsequently owned by Wilfred Merton.


See Scope and content.