Collection of poems and illustrations associated with Catherine Stephens (1794-1882),singer and actress, 1825-1828

Scope and Content

The collection of poems and drawings has been brought together in a volume, finely bound in redleather with gilded fore-edge and gold stamping on the covers. It appears to be entirely in faircopy; although several of the poems are identified as 'Original Poetry', there is no evidence ofcomposition process or of corrections to draft texts.

The poetry is written in a number of different hands, occasionally apparently copied from apublished work, with the author's name or initial. Names given include; Barriston, Cowper, T. Moore,Burns, Shenstone, E.S., A.S., Montgomery, Southey, H.C., W.B.C., Croley, Young, Harriet Cooke, andAlaric A. Watts.

The artwork is a mix of printed illustrations and extremely fine original work which is boundinto the volume, added directly onto the pages of the volume or pasted inside. The original workincludes four oil paintings of butterflies, an oil painting of plums, a pencil sketch of a womansigned 'H. Harding, 1825', and what appears to be an ink drawing of a castle and cattle beside alake.

Administrative / Biographical History

Catherine Stephens was born in 1794, the daughter of Edward Stephens, a carver and gilder inLondon. She became familiar as a singer under the stage name Kitty Stephens, having made her publicdebut at Covent Garden in 1813. She was best known for her unrivalled voice as a ballad singer butalso excelled in comic parts. In 1838, she became the second wife of George Capel-Coningsby(1757-1839), the 5th Earl of Essex. Catherine, now Countess of Essex, died in 1882.

The identity of the compiler of this collection of poems and illustrations is not confirmed,although detailed analysis of its contents might provide further evidence. A number of clues suggestthat it may have belonged to Catherine Stephens (later Countess of Essex). Firstly, the volumecontains a poem describing the wonderful singing voice of 'Miss Stephens'. The preceding poem issigned E.S., the initials of Edward Stephens, her father. Edward was a gilder, and the fine gildingon the binding of the volume may be his work. The dates which are occasionally added to entries inthe volume also fit the possibility that it belonged to Catherine Stephens.


No archival arrangement has been necessary.

Access Information

ACCESS: Accessible to all registered readers.


Other Finding Aids

This description is the only finding aid available for the volume. Copyright in thedescription belongs to The University of Nottingham.

Conditions Governing Use

REPROGRAPHIC: Reprographic copies can be supplied for educational use and private study purposesonly, depending on access status and the condition of the documents.

COPYRIGHT: Permission to make published use of any material from this volume must be sought inadvance in writing from the Keeper of the Department of Manuscripts and Special Collections (email The Department willtry to assist in identifying copyright owners but this can be difficult and the responsibility forcopyright clearance before publication ultimately rests with the person wishing to publish.

Custodial History

The date of acquisition and provenance of the volume is unknown but it seems to have beenacquired by the library of University College Nottingham (now The University of Nottingham) in the1940s.

Related Material

  • National Register of Archives: The register records that letters of Catherine Stephen'sbrother, Edward M. Stephens, containing short accounts of her tours and covering the period1817-1829 are in existence. The location of the letters is recorded as unknown. Reference:

Geographical Names