George Grote Letters

Scope and Content

Letters from Grote to Sir William Smith, lexicographer, concerning Smith's work and Grote's 'History of Greece', plus other subjects. Also included is a printed notice by Joseph Mazzini dated 8 November 1852, appealing for money, and a duplicated circular letter to Grote relating to 'The Hungarian Fund', signed by Lajos Kossuth, with a note from Grote, 1853.

Administrative / Biographical History

George Grote was born in Kent in November 1794, the eldest of eleven children. His father was a banker. At school George had a genuine love of learning which survived the plunge into business at the bank that his father imposed on him at the age of sixteen. He pursued his interest in classical reading, took up German and philosophy, and extended his view of political economy. He was also musical. From 1822, Grote was committed to the project of writing a history of Greece. From 1826 to 1830 he was one of the promoters of the new University College London. Grote became interested in political reform when he visited Paris in 1830. He became known as a man of business and this helped him when he entered politics. He sat through three parliaments till 1841, when he refused to be nominated again. He wished to return to studying and finish his 'History of Greece' which was completed in 1856 and consisted of twelve volumes. In 1843 he left the bank permanently. Grote published other writings during his lifetime, mainly about politics and philosophy. In 1849 he was re-elected to the University College London Council and in 1868 he became president of the University. During his life Grote received many honours: D.D.L. of Oxford in 1853; LL.D. of Cambridge in 1861; fellow of the Royal Society in 1857; and honorary Professor of Ancient History to the Royal Academy in 1859. He also received honours from other countries. He was offered a peerage by Gladstone in 1869 but declined it. He died in June 1871 and was buried in Westminster Abbey.

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.

Acquisition Information

Presented by H Clifford-Smith, grandson of Sir William Smith, in 1952.

Other Finding Aids

Collection level description.

Conditions Governing Use

Normal copyright restrictions apply.

Related Material

University College London Special Collections also holds portions of the manuscript of Grote's 'History of Greece', c1856 (Ref: MS ADD 107); correspondence of George Grote, Harriet Grote (née Lewin) and Jessie Lewin, 1861-1879 (Ref: MS ADD 120); five letters of Harriet Grote to Mrs Georgiana Malcolm, 1857-1862 and undated (Ref: MS ADD 174); correspondence and diaries of George and Harriet Grote and the Lewin family, 1819-1887 (Ref: MS ADD 266); correspondence of George and Harriet Grote with George Croom Robertson, 1860s-1870s (Ref: MS ADD 88); two letters from George Grote to the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, 1829, 1842 (Ref: SDUK); a letter from George Grote to Sir Edwin Chadwick, 1833, and one to J Austin, 1833 (Ref: BENTHAM); eight letters from George Grote to Henry Brougham, 1st Baron Brougham and Vaux, 1827-1844 and undated (Ref: BROUGHAM); a copy letter from George Grote to Sir Isaac Goldsmid, 1833; an undated letter from George Grote to Joseph Parkes and two from Harriet Grote, 1853, [1854] (Ref: PARKES); letters of George Grote concerning University College London business, 1826-[1850], 1870, and a letter from Harriet Grote concerning her gift to the Library [1873] (Ref: COLLEGE CORRESPONDENCE); miscellaneous correspondence of George and Harriet Grote (Ref: MS MISC 2G, 3G, 3T).