Grote and Lewin Letters

Scope and Content

Five letters from George Grote to Thomas Spencer Baynes, 1861-1871; letter from George Grote to William Benjamin Carpenter, 1862; seven letters from Harriet Grote to Thomas Spencer Baynes, 1875-1878; two letters from Jessie Lewin to Thomas Spencer Baynes, 1878; letter from Jessie Lewin to Mrs Baynes, 1879.

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.

Harriet Grote ne Lewin, biographer and wife of the historian George Grote (1794-1871), was born near Southampton in July 1792. She married George Grote in 1820. During their engagement Harriet studied hard so that she could share Grote's intellectual interests. Mrs Grote devoted herself to managing her husband's life, both practically and socially. They lived mainly in London and Surrey. Harriet Grote was always a diligent keeper of diaries and notebooks, as well as a good letterwriter, and having accumulated an abundance of materials, began to write a biographical account of her husband while he was still alive. This work was rapidly pushed forward on his death in 1871, and she herself had already reached her eightieth year, when it was published in 1873 as 'The personal life of George Grote'. She had printed and published other material previously in her lifetime. She died at Shiere in Surrey, aged eighty-seven.

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

Gift from R A Spalding in September 1967.

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); letters from Grote to Sir William Smith and other papers, 1852-1870 (Ref: MS ADD 134); 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).