MILL, James, 1773-1836; MILL, John Stuart, 1806-1873; MILL, Harriet Taylor nee Hardy, 1808-1858; TAYLOR, Helen, 1831-1907

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

Correspondence of John Stuart Mill; correspondence of Helen Taylor concerning the publication and translation of John Stuart Mill's works and correspondence, the Moral Reform Union, women's suffrage, the social position and education of women, the London School Board and education, literary work, the land question, political questions, Irish affairs, miscellaneous public interests, and private correspondence; letters of appreciation and criticism of John Stuart Mill's work and character, and of sympathy on his death; other miscellaneous letters concerning John Stuart Mill; additional correspondence of John Stuart Mill; correspondence of Harriet Taylor and other members of the Taylor family; material relating to honorary degrees, society memberships, etc. conferred on John Stuart Mill; note books, etc. of John Stuart Mill, including botanical notebooks; writings by Helen Taylor, including 'Limits of Local Government', 'Municipal Vote etc', and her diaries; letters, speeches and articles by and concerning John Stuart Mill, extracted from newspapers and periodicals; miscellaneous papers of John Stuart Mill, Helen Taylor, Harriet Taylor, and others; and photographs and press cuttings.

Administrative / Biographical History

James Mill, 1773-1836, was educated in Edinburgh by Sir John Stuart of Fettercain, and was licensed to preach in 1798. He moved to London in 1802 and supported his family by writing. He became editor of the 'Literary Journal' in 1803 and the 'St James Chronicle' in 1805, and also wrote for the 'Edinburgh Review' from 1808 to 1813. In 1808, Mill met Jeremy Bentham, was converted to his utilitarian philosophy, and abandoned theology. Thereafter, Mill took an active part in the Bell and Lancaster educational controversy and formed an association to set up a Chrestomathic school in 1814, the outcome of this being the formation of the London University in 1825. He also contributed articles to the 'Westminster Review', which was established as the official Benthamite paper. He was also connected with David Ricardo and took part in meetings at Ricardo's house which resulted in the Political Economy Club being founded in 1820.

John Stuart Mill, 1806-1873, was educated by his father, James Mill, to a very high level at an early age. Like his father he was a staunch utilitarian and he was also active in radical causes. In 1823, he formed the Utilitarian Society, which met to read and discuss essays, in 1825, he edited Bentham's 'Rationale of Judicial Evidence' and in 1826, he assisted in the formation of the Speculative Society. By the 1830's, John Stuart Mill had become interested in the work of romantic writers such as Wordsworth and also in the French Revolution. The 1832 Reform Bill seemed to give an opportunity for the Radicals to gain influence in Parliament and much of his energy at this time was given over to this. In 1835 he founded the 'London Review' which merged with the 'Westminster Review' in 1836. As proprietor from 1837-1840 he tried to use the paper to promote the philosophical radicals and their cause in Parliament. However by 1840 he had been unable to achieve his end and so gave up proprietership of the paper. The 1840s were devoted to writing his great works on logic and economics. In 1851, he married Harriet Taylor, who died in 1858. He was elected MP for Westminster in 1865 and served as a radical. He was a supporter of the 1867 Reform Bill and was active in support of the Labour Movement, the extension of the franchise to women, cumulative voting, Irish land reforms, municipal government for London and became embroiled in the Eyre controversy. He also proposed the Hare plan as an amendment to the Representation of the People Bill but failed in an attempt to obtain the vote for women. After he lost his seat in 1868, he continued to write articles and books and completed a revision of his autobiography before his death.

Harriet Taylor (nee Hardy), 1807-1858, was the daughter of a London surgeon. At the age of eighteen, she married John Taylor, a wealthy businessman. She and her husband were both active in the Unitarian Church and held radical political views. Harriet Taylor first met John Stuart Mill in 1830. During their association she worked closely with him contributing suggestions and revisions to his work. She was particularly influential in forming his ideas on women's rights, making him aware of the hardship suffered by women. In 1833, Harriet Taylor separated from her husband. He died of cancer in 1849, and two years later, she married John Stuart Mill.

Helen Taylor, 1831-1907, the daughter of Harriet Taylor, became companion to John Stuart Mill on the death of her mother in 1858. She assisted him in his work and helped to keep alive his interest in women's rights. She also campaigned in her own right on women's suffrage, the social position and education of women. She was a member of the Moral Reform Union and a leading light in the fight to abolish school fees and provide school meals.


This collection is arranged in 59 volumes, 10 boxes and several additions:

Vols. 1-2. Correspondence of John Stuart Mill, 1822-1870.

Vol. 3. Copies of letters addressed by John Stuart Mill to Henry Fawcett, 1860-1870.

Vols. 4-5. Correspondence of Helen Taylor: publication of John Stuart Mill's works, 1867-1898.

Vol. 6. Correspondence of Helen Taylor: translation of John Stuart Mill's works, 1873-1905.

Vol. 7. Correspondence of Helen Taylor: John Stuart Mill's letters and their publication, 1873-1898.

Vol. 8. Correspondence of Helen Taylor: a) letters of appreciation and criticism of John Stuart Mill's work and character, 1868-1897, b) letters of sympathy on the death of John Stuart Mill, 1873-1876, c) miscellaneous letters concerning John Stuart Mill, 1873-1894.

Vol. 9. Correspondence of Helen Taylor: additional correspondence of John Stuart Mill, 1832-1870.

Vols. 10-11. Correspondence of Helen Taylor: Moral Reform Union, 1885-1897.

Vols. 12-13. Correspondence of Helen Taylor: women's suffrage, 1866-1895.

Vol. 14. Correspondence of Helen Taylor: social position and education of women, 1865-1895.

Vols. 15-16. Correspondence of Helen Taylor: London School Board and education, 1867-1889.

Vol. 17. Correspondence of Helen Taylor: a) literary work, 1867-1872, b) land question, 1882-1900.

Vol. 18. Correspondence of Helen Taylor: a) political questions, 1868-1895, b) Irish affairs, 1881-1889, c) miscellaneous public interests, 1869-1895.

Vols. 19-26. Correspondence of Helen Taylor: private correspondence, 1856-1905.

Vols. 27-29. Correspondence of Mrs Taylor, other members of the Taylor family and miscellaneous correspondence, 1827-1918.

Vol. 30. Honorary degrees, society memberships, etc., conferred on John Stuart Mill, 1858-1870.

Vols. 31-40. Note books, etc. of John Stuart Mill, c1858-1873.

Vol. 41. Miscellaneous papers of John Stuart Mill and Helen Taylor, c1857-1873.

Vol. 42. 'Limits of Local Government' by Helen Taylor, 1877.

Vol. 43. 'Municipal vote, etc.' by Helen Taylor, 1881.

Vol. 44. Diaries of Helen Taylor, 1842-1847.

Vol. 45. Letters, speeches, articles, etc. by and concerning John Stuart Mill, extracted from newspapers and periodicals, 1864-1907.

Vol. 46. Descriptive lists and indexes (the catalogue to vols. 1-45 and boxes 1-8), 1950.

Vol. 47. Family letters, 1817-1871.

Vol. 48. Professional correspondence from and to John Stuart Mill, 1828-1872.

Vol. 49. a) Letters from James Mill and John Stuart Mill to Albany Fonblanque and Edward Barrington Fonblanque, 1831-1873, b) notes in John Stuart Mill's hand and a letter from John Elliott Cairnes to N [William Nesbitt?] concerning John Stuart Mill, 1859, c) concerning John Chapman and the 'Westminster Review', 1858-1867.

Vols. 50-54. Correspondence concerning the personal affairs of John Stuart Mill and Harriet Mill, and the early career of Helen Taylor, c1830-1873.

Vols. 55-56. Correspondence between John Stuart Mill and John Elliott Cairnes, 1858-1873.

Vol. 57. a) Letters from John Stuart Mill and William Thomas Thornton to Henry Fawcett, c1860-1872, b) letter from friends to members of John Stuart Mill's family, 1860-1896.

Vol. 58. a) Papers connected with the estate of Algernon Taylor, 1902-1918, b) Diary of Mary Taylor, 1904-1906, c) Papers connected with Helen Taylor and the family of Algernon Taylor, 1905-1916, d) Press cuttings and other printed matter, 1850-1910.

Vol. 59. Manuscript notes by James Mill, c1806-1825.

Boxes 1-3. Miscellaneous papers of John Stuart Mill, Helen Taylor, Harriet Taylor, etc, c1831-1905.

Box 4. Photographs, nd.

Box 5-8. Press cuttings, etc, 1865-1885.

Box 9. i) Passport to Sardinia for John Stuart Mill, Harriet Taylor Mill and Helen Taylor, 1853, ii) John Stuart Mill's account book, 1866-1870, iii) Household notes and notes connected with her will by Mary Taylor, 1914.

Box 10. Family portraits, etc, nd.

Additional 1. Speeches and other papers by JS Mill, 1823-1870.

Additional 2. Correspondence by or concerning the Mill and Taylor families, 1832-1869

Additional 3. Miscellaneous papers, mainly copies and printed material, relating to JS Mill, 1905-1960.

Additional 4. Correspondence between J S Mill and Sir William Molesworth on subjects including articles by Mill and others, and the editing of the 'London Review', 1836-1840.

Additional 5. Letters from JS Mill to George Howell and Edmond Beales, 1865-1868.

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Other Finding Aids

Printed handlist available

Archivist's Note

Output from CAIRS using template 14 and checked by hand on May 29, 2002

Conditions Governing Use


Custodial History

John Stuart Mill died in 1873, leaving his estate to his stepdaughter Helen Taylor. She died in 1907, and their papers passed to her niece, Mary Taylor. On her death the National Provincial Bank became the sole executor of her estate and, in due course, the papers were sold at auction. The papers were sold in two lots, the first in 1922 and the second in 1927. The first lot of papers sold were bought by Messrs Maggs who resold them to the firm of Trout, from whom the British Library of Political and Economic Science bought them in 1926. Of the rest of the material, nearly 270 letters, mainly between Mill's wife Harriet and her daughter Helen Taylor, came into the possession of Lord Keynes; the remainder seem to have been dispersed. A fuller account of this purchase and of the events that led up to it are given in the Bulletin of the British Library of Political and Economic Science, November 1926, and the preface to the Bibliography of the Published Writing of John Stuart Mill, published 1945. Since 1926, the original purchase has been augmented to form the collection as it now stands. In addition to the many small groups of letters and single letters that have been added there were three substantial additions. In 1943, the National Provincial Bank presented a miscellaneous collection of letters, documents and photographs which had remained in its custody. Also in 1943, Miss Philippa Fawcett presented 41 letters written by Mill to her father, Henry Fawcett. On the death of Lord Keynes, the letters in his possession passed to Kings College Cambridge, and in 1947 the Provost and Fellows of the College, in accordance with his known intentions, generously presented them to the library in order that they might be added to this collection.

Geographical Names