Papers of Dr John David Fleeman

Scope and Content

A noted Samuel Johnson expert and bibliographer, these papers are Dr Fleeman's research working notes and manuscripts of published and unpublished works.

Administrative / Biographical History

John David Fleeman (1932-1993) was born in the East Riding of Yorkshire, a 'Johnson' on his mother's side. He attended Pocklington School and St Andrews University (1951-1956) where he obtained a First in English Language and Literature and won the class medal. He fulfilled his National Service (1956-1958) in the Royal Army Education Corps. He married Isabella Macaskill whom he had met at St Andrews in 1957.

After a brief period teaching in Selby he gained a place at Oxford to pursue graduate study on Johnson and, particularly, on the bibliography of Johnson's works under LF Powell (D.Phil awarded in 1965). Between 1961-63 he was bibliography consultant at Harvard and responsible for the cataloguing the collection of Donald and Mary Hyde. In 1964 he was Hyde Fellow in Bibliography at Harvard. He was elected a fellow of Pembroke College, Oxford and was responsible for tutoring on English literature and lecturing in the Faculty of English. He also took on administrative responsibilities within the College including Secretary of the Governing Body (1966-71) and Librarian from 1968. He served as acting head of the college from 1991-93 and Vicegerent 1992-93. Beyond the college and faculty he was appointed one of the two University Proctors, 1976-77, editor of Notes and Queries 1977-1984. He acted as president of both the Lichfield Society and the Johnson Club and a governor of Johnson's House.

He published extensively on Johnson between 1961 and 1994. He worked towards a complete account of every published piece by Johnson and of every known fragment of manuscript material which could be traced. He worked not only on the editions published in Johnson's lifetime but all later printings. Sadly he died before completing his bibliography of Johnson which was published posthumously. He is recognised as 'the greatest Johnson scholar of his time, embodying the virtues and qualities that Johnson demanded in the Scholar' and a 'kind and tolerant man who loved his subject and cared for his students' (Professor Gray, Memorial Service, 27 October 1994).


Listing in progress.

Access Information

By appointment with the Archivist. Access to unpublished records less than 30 years old and other records containing confidential information may be restricted.

Acquisition Information

Gifted to the University of St Andrews in 1998 by Mrs Isabel Fleeman and transferred to the Library in 1998, 2001 and 2003.


Mrs Isabel Fleeman has also endowed a Fellowship for research using the collections.

Description compiled by Rachel Hart, Archives Hub Project Archivist.

Other Finding Aids

Listing in progess.

Conditions Governing Use

Applications for permission to quote should be sent to the University Archivist. Reproduction subject to usual conditions: educational use and condition of documents.

Custodial History

Collection retained by Dr Fleeman's widow after his death.



Related Material

GB 227 also holds Fleeman's library (ca. 500 volumes), mostly editions of works on Johnson but also some modern critical material which were deposited at the same time as the manuscripts.


DL vander Meulen, (ed.), Studies in Bibliography: Essays in honor of JD Fleeman, Papers of the Bibliographical Society of the University of Virginia, vol. 48 (Charlottesville, 1995); JD Fleeman and James McLaverty, A bibliography of the works of Samuel Johnson : treating his published works from the beginnings to 1984, (Oxford, 2000).

Geographical Names