William Herschel: Correspondence re. Monograph

Scope and Content

Lovell compiled the following note on the Herschel files in 2006:

"In 1781 William Herschel, a professional musician aged 40 years old and organist in Bath, discovered the planet Uranus – the first new planet discovered since ancient times. Immediately he became a famous astronomer, was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society and awarded its Copley medal and was appointed Kings astronomer by George III. He moved from Bath to Datchet and then to Slough and proceeded to make his historic surveys of the universe with telescopes of his own construction.

In 1977 I had been invited to give a public lecture in the University of Bath and on March 8, 1977 I did so on “Herschel’s work on the structure of the Universe” subsequently published in Notes and Records of the Royal Society, 33, No.1 August 1978.

Subsequently in the bicentenary year 1981 I was again asked to give a public lecture in the University of Bath and on that occasion I spoke more generally about Herschel’s life as a musician and astronomer with a number of musical illustrations.

As I was born only 7 miles from Bath and had been a pupil and an organist in that city and as 1981 was the year of my retirement as director of Jodrell I became deeply interested in Herschel’s extraordinary life and proceeded to write a monograph on the ‘Life and Times of William Herschel’. After a great deal of research I completed this up to the age of his discovery of the planet Uranus and intended to complete the astronomical section based on my 1977 Bath lecture. However, as the correspondence in these files records I was discouraged from completing the manuscript and turned my attention to other matters.

The files and miscellaneous papers about the preoccupation with Herschel are attached. Unfortunately the correspondence is mixed and not filed in chronological order but they include 1) the correspondence with the University of Bath about the public lectures of 1977 and 1981. 2) correspondence with Lady Jeans, and the Glasgow Academy and the University of Edinburgh about the original scores of Herschel’s music some of which are in these files. 3) details of several lectures to musical soirees illustrated by Rose Cholmondley at the piano. 4) In 1981 I was Master of the Court of the Worshipful Company of Musicians in London and persuaded the Court to provide funds for the editing of one of Herschel’s symphonies for public performance. The correspondence about this with the director of music in the University of Bath is included. The performance of the symphony at the University of Bath was in October 1983."

This general file contains correspondence about Lovell's monograph with Curtis Brown.; with Lady Susi Jeans concerning a Herschel violin concerto and her monograph on Herschel's organ music; with Viscountess Fitzclarence (Alexa Maxwell, later Countess of Munster) re. the violin concerto, Colin Ronan re a recording of the conerto; Frank brown re. the University of bath Herschel ensemble,. also included are newsletters of the William Herschel Society; Richard Vendome (University of Oxford) re Herschel's organ voluntaries; with Leslie McLeod concerning an invitation to conduct Herschel concerto for the viol de gamba at Glasgow in 1990 (declined) and letters of thanks concerning a Holmes Chapel Music Society event in 1982.