Papers of Blanco White

Scope and Content

The Blanco White Papers held in Special Collections and Archives , University of Liverpool Library, contain correspondence, manuscripts, notebooks and pamphlets relating to the life and works of the Reverend Joseph Blanco White.

Administrative / Biographical History

Joseph Blanco White was a Spanish theologian, priest, poet, journalist and literary critic. He was born Jose Maria Blanco Y Crespo in Seville on 11 July 1775. At the age of twelve Blanco White expressed his desire to become a clergyman. His decision was prompted by his lack of desire to continue working in the family firm. Up until this time he had worked regularly at the offices of his father's export business. He was elected to a fellowship at the College of S. Maria a Jesu and then to the Dominician College of San Tomas where he studied Philosophy. It was at the Dominician College of San Tomas that he obtained the 'four minor orders' of the priesthood. In October 1790 he attended the University of Seville. Whilst at University he formed a friendship with a senior student of literary tastes and started the Seville Literary Society. Having taken his subdeacon's orders in 1796, Blanco was elected a Fellow of the College of S. Maria a Jesu. At Christmas 1800 Blanco was ordained a priest and began performing public exercises in the cathedral of Cadiz. In 1802 he was appointed to a chaplaincy in Seville. During the Spanish Inquisition Blanco resided in Madrid for a time. He returned to Seville when the French entered Spain. On his return to Seville he was appointed co-editor of Semanario Patriotico, a journal established by the central junta. The paper was suppressed as Blanco White's political philosophy was not approved of. When the advance of the French forced the junta to leave Seville, Blanco White resolved to escape the country and fled with a group of friends to Cadiz. From there he sailed to England reaching Falmouth on 3 March 1810.

He was received kindly in London by a few English men he had met in Spain, including Lord Holland. Shortly after arriving in England Blanco White conducted the periodical El Español . The periodical was circulated in Spain in defence of the national cause. In 1815 he became tutor to Lord Holland's son Henry Fox, and resided in Holland House. In 1817 he lived for a time with his friend James Christie. In 1822 Letters from Spain was published, becoming an instant success. It had first been published in The New Monthly magazine. This journal went on to publish a number of Blanco's articles which introduced the English literary public to medieval Spanish history and literature. In 1823 he became editor of Variedades o Mensagaro de Londres which was intended for readers in Spanish America. In 1825 he dismayed his friends by opposing Catholic Emancipation in the publication Practical and Internal Evidence against Catholicism. The publication did meet with some approval and Blanco was persuaded to publish a version for the working classes. He quickly became a champion for Protestantism. Oxford in particular was delighted by what they saw as a blow for the church establishment and on the initiative of the Provost of Oriel College, Blanco was awarded an honorary MA from the University. That year he took up residence as a senior member of Oriel College.

At Oxford he was welcomed by the men who would soon afterwards be leaders of the Oxford Movement. Two of these men Richard Whately and Nassau Senior were interested in a new quarterly The London Review, which was started in 1828 . Blanco White was appointed Editor. However in 1829 Blanco publicly supported the re-election of Robert Peel. In doing so he was reversing his earlier position on Catholic Emancipation. In 1832 Whatley became the new Archbishop of Dublin and asked Blanco to accompany him as a tutor for his son. Whilst in Dublin he wrote and published Second Travels of an Irish Gentleman in Search of a Religion . In 1835 he left Dublin for Liverpool. In Liverpool he began attending the unitarian services of Dr. Martineau and his biographer John Hamilton Thom. Blanco White died in Liverpool on 20 May 1841.


The collection has been arranged into seven sections:

  • BWI Correspondence
  • BWII El Español
  • BWIII Manuscripts in the hand of Joseph Blanco White
  • BWIV Other Manuscripts
  • BWV Notebooks
  • BWVI Printed Pamphlets and Ephemera
  • BWVII - BWX Printed works and portraits

Access Information

Access is open to bona fide researchers

Acquisition Information

This collection was bequeathed to University College, Liverpool in 1894  by the Reverend John Hamilton Thom.

Other Finding Aids

A finding aid is available in the reading room

Archivist's Note

This collection was re-listed by Nicola Ashbridge in August 2001 using Adeptedit SGML authoring software using the original list by as a guide to the arrangement of the collection. During the listing in 2001 there were significant renumbering of the items in this collection. This finding aid was edited and ammended by Roy Lumb in October 2003  and September 2004  to conform to current standards and for inclusion on the Archives Hub. In 2008 notes were included to indiciate the numbers given to items in the archive catalogue created in 1942 by Anne D. Holt, in this list two different numbers were supplied; numbers in the left hand column were intended to be used in conjuction with the sectional numbers at the head of the pages as a means of literary reference. Those in the right hand margin were the press marks (physical location numbers) of the volumes, portfolios etc. in which the collection was arranged in the University Library. Both of these numbers have now been recorded in a note with the literary reference the first number and the press-marks the second.

Conditions Governing Use

Reproduction and licensing rules available on request


There are no anticipated accruals

Related Material

Other holdings in Special Collections and Archives:

There are a quantity of printed books, which belonged to Blanco White, held in the University of Liverpool LibrarySpecial Collections and Archives Department,.

The Rathbone Papers held in Special Collections and Archives, University of Liverpool, contain:

  • RP V.4 Papers of Blanco White
  • RP VI.1.475-476 Letters from Joseph Blanco White
  • Further letters to and from Joseph Blanco White form part of the Rathbone family's Autograph collection, RP XXI Including a letter from Joseph Blanco-White RP XXI.19.29.

Though this collection of Blanco White's papers is probably the most important in existence, there is another collection held at Oxford University Harris Manchester College. This includes diaries for 1822, 1836 and 1839, together with letters from his family and others, both in Spanish and English, and a quantity of sermons.

Oxford University Bodleian Library Special collections and Western manuscripts hold correspondence with Blanco White and John Henry Newman (1828) and letters to Robert Southey 1811-1827 .

Oxford University Oriel College Library hold c.40 letters to Edward hawkins (1828-1841

The British Library Manuscripts collections hold correspondence between Blanco White and Dr John Holland (1810-1840), Lord Holland (1807-1839) and Lady holland (817-1832)

Birmingham Oratory hold Blanco White letters to John Henry Newman.

Lambeth Palace Library hold correspondence with Blanco White and Richard and Elizabeth Whately


Martin Murphy, Blanco White Self-banished Spaniard, Yale Univerity Press, 1989 , lists other sources which contain material on Blanco White

A biographical account of Joseph Blanco White is included in Our memories: shadows of old Oxford, edited by C.H.O. Daniel, pp.1-4, Reference number SPEC CHILDREN EII.4:1

Geographical Names