Correspondence of Archibald Constable, with some related material

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 206 Brotherton Collection MS Misc. Letters 1 Constable
  • Dates of Creation
      ca. 1788-1827
  • Name of Creator
  • Language of Material
      English Latin
  • Physical Description
      450 items, chiefly letters, held in 6 boxes and 1 folder; principally manuscript, but with a little printed material. The collection was formerly kept in 3 quarto volumes bound in maroon cloth with the names of the correspondents listed on the spines. There are examples of both red and black seals.

Scope and Content

Comprises over 400 autograph letters written by or to Archibald Constable between 1788 and 1827, together with some related documents, historical, and literary pieces, including (in manuscript) a verse dedication by Bernard Barton to William Roscoe (item 4); a copy of a poem attributed to James Thomson (item 135); an address delivered by the Earl of Buchan in 1817 to 'the Gentlemen of the United States of America' at Edinburgh (item 139); copies of wills by William Brodie, 1788 and (in part) of Anna Seward, 1809 (items 143 and 297); and a copy of botanical and nature verses by Erasmus Darwin and Anna Seward (item 309). Correspondents include: Bernard Barton, David Buchanan, James Ballantyne, Jeremy Bentham, William Blackwood, Jonathan Boucher, B.H. Bright, Richard Bright, Henry Brougham, James Brown, Robert Brown, the Earl of Buchan, David Erskine, William Brodie, J.S. Buckingham, O. Rees, John Rennie, T. Rennell, John Robison, Amelia Opie, John Park, James Park, Breadie Park, Charles Paton, Sir Richard Phillips, Robert Pitcairn, Henry Raeburn, Joseph Ritson, William Roscoe, the Duke of Roxburghe, Anna Seward, C. Kirkpatrick Sharpe, Madame de Stal, Sir John Sinclair, and Sydney Smith. The original three volumes included only correspondents with names beginning with the letters B, O-P-R, and S; they were clearly only part of a much larger collection of correspondence.

Administrative / Biographical History

Archibald Constable (1774-1827), the Edinburgh publisher. For fuller details of his life and writings see the Dictionary of National Biography.


The items are arranged and numbered in the order in which they are listed in the typescript description of the collection made when it was in the private library of Lord Brotherton.

Access Information

Access is unrestricted.

Acquisition Information

From the library of Lord Brotherton.


In English, but with a few sentences in Latin.

Other Finding Aids

The letters are listed in the Letters database


See Thomas Constable, Archibald Constable and his Literary Correspondents: A Memorial, 3 vols (Edinburgh, 1873), in which the most prominent correspondents are discussed and some of their letters printed.