Sully Papers

Scope and Content

Correspondence of James Sully. Includes letters from individual correspondents such as John, Viscount Morley of Blackburn; George Eliot; Edmund Gurney; George Meredith and Henry Lewis, and other literary and scientific figures.

Administrative / Biographical History

After obtaining a degree at Regents Park College in London, Sully went to Gottingen in 1867 to study for the London University MA. From 1869 to 1870 he was a classical tutor at the Baptist College, Pontypool. In 1871 he assisted John Morley, then Editor of the 'Fortnightly Review', with correspondence, proof-reading, etc, and he began to write for the 'Fortnightly' and the 'Saturday Review'. In 1873 Sully was first invited to contribute an article on aesthetics to the 'Encyclopaedia Britannica' and in the following year 'Sensation and intuition' was published. He subsequently contributed to articles to several journals, including 'The Academy', 'The Contemporary Review', 'The Cornhill Magazine', 'The Examiner', and 'Mind'. In 1877 'Pessimism' was published. Sully became an Examiner in Logic and Philosophy at the University of London in 1878. The following year he was Lecturer in the Theory of Education at the Maria Grey Training College and the College of Preceptors. A series of publications followed: 'Illusions' in 1881; 'Outlines of Psychology' in 1884; 'A teacher's handbook of psychology' in 1886; and 'The human mind' in 1892. In 1892 Sully was elected to the vacant chair of Mind and Logic at University College London on the resignation of George Croom Robertson. In 1895 'Studies of childhood' and in 1902 'An essay on laughter' were published. In 1903 Sully resigned from his Professorship and in 1918 published 'My life and friends'.

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.

Other Finding Aids

A hardcopy handlist is also available. Please contact Special Collections for further information.

Conditions Governing Use

Normal copyright restrictions apply.

Related Material

UCL Special Collections also holds letters of Sully to Sir Francis Galton, 1878-1898 (Ref: GALTON), 2 letters from Sully to Karl Pearson (ref: PEARSON/11/1/18/162), letters relating to appointment at University College London (Ref: COLLEGE CORRESPONDENCE (UCLCA)), and material relating to lectures by Sully in the papers of Ebenezer Cooke (ref: CO).

Cambridge University, King's College Archive Centre, holds 66 letters to O Browning, 1882-1904 (Ref: OB).