James Smith: Literary essays and notes

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

1. Papers on Shakespeare

The largest part of the collection is comprised of versions of chapters prepared for Smith's Shakespearian and other essays, supplemented by a few essays on related topics.

Shakespearian and other essays

The printers' copy of chapters from Smith's book, 1973, including preliminaries and Edward Wilson's memoir of the author (1 envelope).

All's well that end's well

The collated version of the chapter on the play prepared for Shakespearian and other essays, c. 1972 (1 folder).

A version of the chapter prepared for Smith's book, typed by Edward Wilson, 1972, and including Smith's original draft and earlier rough notes (1 folder).

Drafts of an essay on the play, with a lecture in Spanish based on this essay, probably delivered in Santander, 1949 or 1950 (1 folder).

Measure for measure

Three copies of an undated essay entitled 'A view of Measure for Measure' (1 envelope).

The final drafts of the chapter 'Measure for Measure - a fragment' prepared for Shakespearian and other essays, 1972 (1 folder).

The merchant of Venice

A copy of the chapter on the play in Shakespearian and other essays, emended from another copy by Edward Wilson, and typed for publication by Cambridge University Press, February 1973 (1 folder).

A corrected carbon copy of the final version of the chapter used in Smith's book, c. 1972 (1 folder).

An uncorrected carbon copy of the chapter on the play, c. 1972 (1 folder).

Much ado about nothing

Notes and letters regarding the play, c. 1930s-1940s (1 folder).

The tempest

The corrected copy of the chapter on the play in Shakespearian and other essays, c. 1972 (1 folder).

A copy of the chapter, with notes, c. 1972 (1 folder).

A copy of sections I-V of the chapter in Shakespearian and other essays, with rough notes, c. 1972 (1 folder).

An unannotated carbon copy of sections I-V, c. 1972 (1 folder).

An unannotated carbon copy of sections I-V, with several pages missing, c. 1972 (1 folder).

Drafts of sections VI-VIII, c. 1972 (1 folder).

The winter's tale

A copy of the final version of the chapter on the play in Shakespearian and other essays, 1972 (1 folder).

Two copies of the draft of the final version of the chapter, 1972 (1 folder).

2. Other papers

The remainder of the collection consists of a few items relating to literature, and particularly Anglo-Saxon texts.

Essay on Beowulf, c. 1957 (1 folder).

The corrected draft, with notes, of an essay entitled 'The dream of the Rood', c. 1972, later published in a revised form in Anglo-Saxon England (1 envelope).

A copy of the essay 'The dream of the Rood', 1974 (1 envelope).

The text and notes for a lecture delivered at Gregynog to professors and teachers of English in Welsh universities, 1971 (1 ring-binder).

The collection is accompanied by correspondence with Cambridge University Library regarding the presentation of the papers to the library, 1972-1976, including descriptive lists.

Administrative / Biographical History

James Smith (1904-1972) was born at Batley, near Leeds, on 17 June 1904. He attended the local grammar school before entering Trinity College, Cambridge, where he studied English and modern and medieval languages. He was Visiting Fellow at Princeton University, New Jersey, 1928-1930, and H.M. Inspector of Schools, 1934-1937. After working as an examiner for the Cambridge Local Examination Syndicate, he spent the war working in education in Venezuela. Smith returned to Cambridge in 1946, where he carried out examining and supervision work. In 1947 he was appointed Professor of English Language and Literature at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland. He retired to Cambridge in 1969, and died on 1 August 1972. Smith's principal published work is Shakespearian and other essays (1974), an interpretation of Shakespeare's comedies. His planned series of essays, intended to establish English literary tradition going back to Beowulf, remained uncompleted at his death

Conditions Governing Access

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

Acquisition Information

Deposited on indefinite loan by the executors of James Smith, 1973-1976.

Other Finding Aids

None.

Archivist's Note

Description compiled by Robert Steiner, Department of Manuscripts and University Archives. The biographical history was compiled with reference to the memoir by Edward Wilson found in the collection.

Subjects