John Clare: Letters from him

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 12 MS.Add.8525
  • Dates of Creation
      c. 1820-1978
  • Name of Creator
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      1 portfolio

Scope and Content

Four letters from John Clare, c. 1820-1831, with related articles from Notes and queries and other publications, 1969-1978.

1. John Clare, Helpstone, to Alaric A. Watts, 17 October 1828, 1 page and address.

2. John Clare, Helpstone, to Thomas Pringle, July 1831, 2 pages, including address.

3. John Clare to Taylor and Hessey, regarding a projected poem, c. 1820, 1 page.

4. John Clare to an unnamed lady, in pencil, undated, 5 pages.

Administrative / Biographical History

John Clare (1793-1864), poet, was born at Helpstone on 13 July 1793, the son of a Northamptonshire labourer. He was employed in a number of jobs, and was a member of the militia of Oundle, 1812-1813. Clare published his first work, Poems descriptive of rural life and scenery, in 1820. This was followed by The village ministrel (1821), The shepherd's calendar (1827) and The rural muse (1835). He failed as a farmer, and faced perennial financial difficulties. After a bout of insanity in 1837, he was removed to a private asylum. He died on 20 May 1864.

Access Information

Open for consultation by holders of a Reader's Ticket valid for the Manuscripts Reading Room.

Acquisition Information

Received from the library of Sir Geoffrey Keynes, 1982.


Description compiled by Robert Steiner, Department of Manuscripts and University Archives. The biographical history was compiled with reference to the entry on John Clare in Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee, eds, Dictionary of national biography, vol. IV (London, 1908), pp. 384-386.

Other Finding Aids



The collection is no. 1573 in Sir Geoffrey Keynes, Bibliotheca bibliographici (London, 1964), p. 163.