Papers of Henry Kirke White (1785-1806), poet

Scope and Content

The primary collection spans the years 1799-1813, covering White's life and events following his death. There is a large amount of correspondence between members of the White family up to the time of Henry's death in 1806 as well as letters from friends. The bulk of the collection is comprised of White's writings, poetic and otherwise.

The papers collected by Professor Granger are mainly concerned with the banquet and related celebrations in Nottingham, December 1906, and with Kirke White's Latin exercises at Cambridge.

Miscellaneous additions to the Collection include an autograph copy of four sonnets and a contemporary copy of 'Clifton Grove' and other poems.

Administrative / Biographical History

Henry Kirke White (1785-1806) was born in Nottingham. He attended schools in the city and in 1798 was apprenticed to a Nottingham hosier. By this time he had already begun to write poetry and read widely in the classics and modern literature. Hating the life of a hosier, he persuaded his family to apprentice him to a local law firm, Messrs. Coldham and Enfield of Middle Pavement, Nottingham.

By 1800 White's poems were beginning to be published in the Monthly Mirrorand the Monthly Preceptor. In 1803 he published a volume of poetry, Clifton Grove, by subscription, receiving a generally favourable response.

By the summer of 1803 White was becoming increasingly deaf, precluding a career at the bar, and suffered his first bout of tuberculosis. He decided to go to university and prepare himself for the ministry, managing to procure a sizarship at St John's College, Cambridge. He went up in 1805 and established himself as one of the foremost classical scholars of his year, being awarded an exhibition in June 1806 and winning the University prize in Classical composition. The intense effort required at Cambridge caused a rapid deterioration in his health and he died in his rooms at St John's on 19th October 1806.

White left behind a large amount of unpublished poetry which was collected together by his brother Neville, edited by Robert Southey, and published in 1807 as the Remains of Kirke White. It was a great popular success and went through many printings and four revised editions over the next thirty years. However, as taste changed his reputation as a poet waned and he is now accorded only a minor place among poets of the nineteenth century.


The primary collection is divided into three sections: C Correspondence; P Henry Kirke White's Writings; X Miscellaneous. Material in C is arranged according to author, and then in chronological order. Subsequent accruals are in distinct groups (Kw 2, Kw 3 and Kw 4).

Access Information

ACCESS: Accessible to all registered readers.

REPROGRAPHIC: Photocopies and photographic copies can be supplied for educational use and private study purposes only, depending on the condition of the documents.

Other Finding Aids

NOTE: Copyright on all Finding Aids belongs to the University of Nottingham.

  • In the Reading Room, University of Nottingham Library: Typescript Catalogue, 31 pp
  • At the National Register of Archives, London: Typescript Catalogue, 31 pp

Conditions Governing Use

COPYRIGHT: Identification of copyright holders of unpublished material is often difficult. Permission to make any published use of any material from the collection must be sought in advance in writing from the Keeper of the Department of Manuscripts and Special Collections (email ). The Department will try to assist in identifying copyright owners but the responsibility for copyright clearance before publication ultimately rests with the reader.

LANGUAGE: English, Latin and Greek.

Custodial History

Other elements in the Collection have come by gift or purchase and without records of their earlier provenance.


ed. Robert Southey, The Remains of Kirke White, (first published 1807) Charles Vernon Fletcher, The Poems of Henry Kirke White: A Modern Edition (Unpublished thesis, University of Nottingham, 1980, 3 vols)