Edward Byles Cowell: Papers

Scope and Content

MS.Add.4193: A series of ethical and theological extracts and notes compiled by E.B. Cowell, 1855-1856, 52 folios. Fos 51-47r are written from the opposite end of the book. On fo. 1v: 'Edwd B. Cowell, Oxford'. Fos 28-46 and 52 are blank.

MS.Add.4195: A series of notes taken by E.B. Cowell of lectures given by J.M. Wilson on Mental Philosophy, 1854, 32 folios.

MSS.Add.4196-4199: Selections from the poems of Dafydd ap Gwilym translated into English by E.B. Cowell.

Vol. I: c. 1878, 72 folios. There is a reference index at the beginning. Attached to fo. 67 is a letter from Robert Williams to [ ], 7 May 1878.

Vol. II: c. 1878, 86 folios (foliated 72-156). There is a reference index at the beginning. The versos are blank throughout.

Vol. III: c. 1878, 28 folios (foliated 157-184).

Vol. IV: c. 1878, 134 folios (foliated 185-318). There is a reference index at the beginning. The versos are blank throughout.

MS.Add.4201: Translations by E.B. Cowell of poems, January 1879-1882, 47 folios: (fo. 1) translations of Howel's poems; (fo. 14) translation of the 'Dialogue between Taliessin and Ugnach', from the 'Black Book of Caermaerthen'; (fo. 15) translation of 'Cyfeiliawg's Circuit of Wales', with notes; (fo. 20) translation of Gwalchmai's poems, with nos 4, 8 and 10 omitted. Fos 25-27, 33-35 and 39-42 are blank.

MS.Add.4202: Translations by E.B. Cowell of a selection of the poems of Cynddelw, 1887, 56 folios. Fos 48-56 are blank.

MS.Add.4203: Translations into English verse by E.B. Cowell of seven of the poems of Dafydd ap Gwilym, 1890, 48 folios. Fos 24-48 and the versos throughout are blank.

MS.Add.4204: Translation into English verse by E.B. Cowell of Michelangelo's sonnets 1-58 (nos 2, 3, 18, 24, 32, 49 and 57 are omitted), 1884-1888, 85 folios. A reference index precedes the text. Fos 58-85 are blank.

Administrative / Biographical History

Edward Byles Cowell (1826-1903), scholar and man of letters, was born in Ipswich on 23 January 1826. He studied Sanskrit, Persian and Arabic, before training in his father's business as a merchant and maltster from 1842. He entered Magdalen College, Oxford, in 1850 (B.A., 1854), and catalogued manuscripts for the Bodleian Library. Cowell was Professor of English History at Presidency College, Calcutta, 1856-1864, and became Principal of the Sanskrit College in Calcutta in 1858. He returned to England in 1864, and became the first Professor of Sanskrit at Cambridge University, 1867-1903. He founded the Cambridge Philological Society in 1868, and became a Fellow of Corpus Christi College in 1874. Cowell died in Cambridge on 9 February 1903.

Access Information

Open for consultation by holders of a Reader's Ticket valid for the Manuscripts Reading Room.

Acquisition Information

Bequeathed by Professor E.B. Cowell, 1903.


Description compiled by Robert Steiner, Department of Manuscripts and University Archives. The biographical history was compiled with reference to the entry on E.B. Cowell in the Sidney Lee, ed., Dictionary of national biography, 1901-1911 (Oxford University Press, 1927), p. 427-430.

Other Finding Aids

Additional Manuscripts Catalogue.

Related Material

Cambridge University Library holds other Cowell papers, MSS.Add.4225, 4501-4503, 4509, 4510, 6406-6409 and 6441.


MSS.Add.4196-4199: The poems are numbered according to the numbers in Owen Jones' Barddoniaith Dafydd ab Gwilym (1873). Cowell's paper on 'Dafydd ab Gwilym' is printed in Y Cymmrodor (1878), pp. 101-132, which includes some of the lines of his translations.

MS.Add.4201: Owen Jones, The Myvyrian archaiology of Wales (Denbigh, 1870), includes the originals of Howel's poems, of 'Cyfeiliawg's Circuit of Wales' (p. 192), and of Gwalchmai's poems (pp. 142-149). The original of the 'Dialogue between Taliessin and Ugnach' can be found in W.F. Skene, The four ancient books of Wales, Vol. II, pp. 56-57.

MS.Add.4202: At the head of most of the translations a reference is given to the page of Myvyrian archaiology on which the originals are printed, and in one case to The four ancient books of Wales.

MS.Add.4203: The poems are numbered with reference to the originals printed in Barddoniaeth Dafydd ab Gwilym (1873).

MS.Add.4204: The translations of nos 13 and 20 are printed in George Cowell, Life and letters of Edward Byles Cowell, pp. 297-298. The remainder are unprinted.

Corporate Names

Geographical Names