Grote Papers

Scope and Content

The collection consists of Lewin family correspondence, including some letters from George Grote which are copies; Grote travel diaries of George and Harriet; and Harriet Grote's journals.

Administrative / Biographical History

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.

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 Greek history 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

Accessible to all registered researchers

Acquisition Information

Transferred from the French Department in November 1978, by Dr. Clifford King, who discovered the papers among those of the late Eva Grunwald.

Other Finding Aids



'The Lewin Letters', collected and edited by Thomas H. Lewin (2 vol., printed for private circulation, 1909), contains two of the letters from this collection. 'George Grote: a biography' written by Professor M.L. Clarke (Athlone, 1962) refers to the diaries and notebook contained in this collection.

Geographical Names