University of Delaware Library

Special Collections


A Manuscript Sampler

Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century Literary and Historical Figures

The University of Delaware Library's holdings in eighteenth and nineteenth century literature and history include a wealthy of manuscript and archival materials. The following section include a representative sampling from these collections.


John Quincy Adams, 1760-1848.
Autograph letter signed, to Andrew A. Jones, 5 December 1836. 1 p.

In this letter, the former President thanks his correspondent for sending him a copy of a publication relating to commerce and tariffs. At the time, Adams was serving in the United States House Representative from the district of Plymouth, Massachusetts. Beginning in 1831, John Quincy Adams was elected to serve in eight successive congresses.


John Jay, 1745-1829.
Autograph letter to William Coleman, 20 May 1817, 1 p.

In this letter, the former President of the Continental Congress and Revolutionary War diplomat, discusses his role in the writing of the Federalist Papers. Jay is responding to a query from the important Federalist period journalist William Coleman (1766-1829).

Robert Burns, 1759-1796.
"Sketch of an Epistle to R. Graham, Esqr. Of Fintray," Autograph manuscript, 4 pp.

The Scottish poet Robert Burns met Robert Graham (1749-1815), the 12th Laird of Fintry, in August 1787. Graham became the poet's steady friend and patron and Burns wrote three poetic epistles to his friend. This is the second such Epistle and concerns the 1790 elections in the Burgh of Dumfries in Southern Scotland where Burns resided. The manuscript was formerly owned by John Gribbel (1858-1936), a Philadelphia industrialist and collector. It eventually was acquired by the Philadelphia nurseryman W. Atlee Burpee .

Gift of W. Atlee Burpee

Washington Irving, 1783-1859.
Autograph manuscript leaf, [n.d.], 1 p.

From the collection of John Stuart Groves. Being a portion of chapter four, volume four, of Irving's Life of Washington. A previous owner has commented: "This is an exceptionally desirable specimen, consisting of nearly two hundred lines and giving a considerable part of the account of Lafayette's return to service in the Continental Army, the resolutions of Congress on the occasion and Washington's plans for a combined attack by the French and American forces on New York."

Gift of John Stuart Groves


James Fenimore Cooper, 1789-1851.
Autograph letter signed, to William Gore Ouseley, [n.d.], 1 p., accompanied by a check and a receipt bearing Cooper's signature.


Washington Irving, 1783-1859.
Autograph manuscript leaf, [n.d.], 1 p.

From the collection of John Stuart Groves. Being a portion of chapter four, volume four, of Irving's Life of Washington. "This is an exceptionally desirable specimen, consisting of nearly two hundred lines and giving a considerable part of the account of Lafayette's return to service in the Continental Army, the resolutions of Congress on the occasion and Washington's plans for a combined attack by the French and American forces on New York"

Gift of John Stuart Groves


Henry David Thoreau, 1817 -1862.
"A Winter Walk," autograph manuscript, with emendations and deletions in the hand of Ralph Waldo Emerson [New York, 1843], 18 pages.

This remarkable manuscript was written in New York in 1843, while Thoreau was staying with Emerson's brother, submitted to Emerson and published later that year in The Dial. The essay was revised by Thoreau during composition and edited for publication by Emerson, who made several substantive changes and numerous deletions. The manuscript, which varies significantly from the published text, was apparently used as printer's copy for The Dial, and all the revisions and deletions were used in that version. Thoreau's manuscript originally consisted of 43 pages, of which the first 16 pages and pages 19-20 do not survive. Present here are pages 17-18, 21-24 and 29-40. The Pierpont Morgan Library and the Houghton Library each have one of the missing leaves, and two additional leaves survive in private collections. "A Winter Walk," which has been called Thoreau's "first fully mature piece of writing," contains some of his earliest observations on nature, and includes references to Walden Pond and the Concord River. The manuscript is accompanied by its first appearance in a published book Excursions (1863).

Melva B. Guthrie Fund and Lammot du Pont Memorial Fund


Nathaniel Hawthorne, 1804-1864.
Document signed, 27 April 1848, 1 p.

Nathaniel Hawthorne was employed in the Boston Custom House from 1839 through 1840 and in the Salem Custom House from1846 until 1849, when he again lost his job through a change in political administrations. Hawthorne used his experience in the Salem Custom House as the basis of "The Custom-House" sketch which serves as Hawthorne's preface to The Scarlet Letter. This document bears Hawthorne's signature verifying the import of twenty cords of wood.


Walt Whitman, 1819-1892.
Autograph letter signed, to Thomas Donaldson, 9 June 1889, 1 p.

In this brief letter, Whitman writes to a member of his Camden circle concerning a gift of money he received from the British actor Henry Irving.

George Gordon Byron, 1788-1824.
Autograph letter signed, to [Longman], 30 June 1812, 1 p.

In this short letter, Lord Byron writes to the publisher Thomas Norton Longman who earlier had refused to publish Byron's English Bards and Scotch Reviewers.

Henry Clay, 1777-1852.
Autograph letter signed, to Francis Mohan Esq., New Orleans, 6 January 1844, 1 p.


William Hazlitt, 1778-1830.

Autograph letter, to David Constable, 10 January 1828, 2 pp., accompanied by its mailing envelope.

In this short but informative letter to one of his publishers, written just two years before his death, Hazlitt proposes several writing projects and appears to offer advice to Constable concerning a painting by the Italian artist Titian.

Leigh Hunt, 1784-1859.
Autograph letter, to Charles Ollier, 24 January 1854, 8 pp.

This letter from the British author to his publisher contains a myriad of details about his life, literary matters, and miscellaneous news.

Sir Walter Scott, 1771-1832.
Autograph letter signed, to [John Wilson] Croker, 27 June [1828], 1 p.

This letter from the Scottish author is directed to the prominent British politician and literary figure John Wilson Croker. Sir Walter Scott provided research information to Croker on various literary projects.


Isaiah Thomas, 1749-1831.
Autograph letter signed to Joseph Lathrop, 15 April 1793.

This letter from the important American printer and publisher to the distinguished New England clergyman, Joseph Lathrop, reveals some of the problems faced by printers. He apologizes to Lathrop for omitting a page of the sermon he has printed for the clergyman and tries to explain how it occurred, during his absence from the press, of course.

M. L. (Mason Locke) Weems, 1759-1825.
Autograph letter signed, to Mathew Carey,
3 September 1802, 1 p.

In this brief letter to his publisher, the famous Parson Weems discusses distribution concerns relating to the Bible which Thomas has just published.

Horace Walpole, 1717-1797.
Autograph note signed, to [John] Pinkerton, 29 October [1787]

In this brief note, Walpole invites the noted Scottish historian, John Pinkerton, to visit his estate at Strawberry Hill.

Richard Rush, 1780-1859.
Autograph letter signed, to Mathew Carey, 18 January 1815, 1 p.

Richard Rush served the fledgling American government in an number of official capacities during his long, distinguished career. At the time of this letter to the publisher Mathew Carey, Rush was the Attorney general of the United States. Recuperating from an illness, he thanks him for sending copies of Carey's recently-published book The Olive Branch (1815), a plea for reconciliation following the War of 1812.

Joel Chandler Harris, 1848-1908
Autograph letter signed, to [James Osgood], 17 July 1882, 2 pp.

In this letter to the Boston publisher, James Osgood, the American author provides an interesting glimpse at the world of nineteenth century publishing contracts. He has signed the letter under the name of his most famous literary creation, "Uncle Remus."


Kipling, Rudyard, 1865-1936.
The Second Jungle Book. [New York: The Century Co., 1895].

These proof sheets of pp. 26-32 contain Kipling's autograph corrections. They are accompanied by a short note from Kipling to his publisher concerning the proofs.

Melva B. Guthrie bequest


Marshals of Napoleon

On May 19, 1804, just one day after being proclaimed Emperor of France, Napoleon created the office of Maréchal, or "Marshal of the Empire," an elite civil rank that was bestowed upon a number of prominent and loyal generals in his army. The title "Marshal of France" had been used by the Bourbon kings as a way to honor highly esteemed commanders in the royal army, and Napoleon sought to revive this tradition. By 1815, twenty-six individuals had been appointed to this rank. Documents and letters signed by the Marshals have long been a popular focus of autograph collectors. The University of Delaware Library holds a complete collection of documents signed by all twenty-six Marshals as well as related material.

Gift of W. Atlee Burpee

Jean Lannes, duc de Montebello,1769-1809.
Autograph letter signed, to le Grand Chanielieu 15 April 1806. Also included is a typed translation of the letter and a portrait of Lannes.

Josef Anton Poniatowski, Prince, 1763-1813.
Autograph document signed, 16 January 1808, 1 p., in Polish on official letterhead, accompanied by a portrait of Poniatowski, the only foreigner appointed as a Marshal by Napoleon.

Napoleon Bonaparte, 1769-1821.
Autograph letter signed, to le Congrès L'état, undated, 1 p.



Autobiographical Works

Margarett Hazlitt, 1770-1841.
"Recollections, 1835-38." Manuscript diary, inscribed "To my good friends Mr. and Mrs. Johns . . . Crediton December 10,1836."
Margaret Hazlitt's "Recollections" of her literary family, written for the information and instruction of her nephew William Hazlitt (1811-1893), cover the period 1737 to approximately 1812. She compiled information on her father William Hazlitt (1737-1820), and her brothers William Hazlitt (1778-1830) and John Hazlitt (1767-1837) from family papers and her own recollections, as well as those of her mother. The diary is of great interest for its account of the origins and history of the Hazlitt family and its detailed description of the visit of the Reverend William Hazlitt and his family to North America from 1783 to 1787. Margaret Hazlitt's journal is the sole source of material on the early years of her brother, the essayist and critic William Hazlitt, and a valuable record of conditions in the United States immediately after the American Revolution.


George Arthur Gray.
Journal, 1863-66. 4 volumes.

In this manuscript journal,George Arthur Gray, an American sailor, records his three-year cruise from Boston to China and back on the Dorchester. Gray made numerous sketches and maps and provides a colorful, fascinating account of his impressions of China, as well as the life of a seaman.

Emily Shore, 1819-1839.
Journals, 1836-1837, 1838-1839.

Emily Shore was the daughter of an English clergyman. She and her sisters were precocious students, producing volumes of poetry together and demonstrating independent thinking in the diaries they kept as young women. The two volumes of her diaries at the University of Delaware Library reflect the entertaining and intelligent observations of Emily Shore. In her lengthy descriptions of daily life, Shore analyzes the characters of herself, her family, and friends, as well as those she in encountered in books. She wrote about relationships, feelings, and concern for her fragile health. Towards the end, as the finality of her consumptive illness grows more apparent, the quality of her handwriting declines and the spiritual takes on a stronger aspect in her diaries.


Gertrude Käasebier, 1852-1934.
Autobiographical notes, [n.d.], typescript (27 pp.)

The pictorial photographer Gertrude Käasebier got a late start on her distinguished career, pursuing art and photography against the wishes of her husband. Early exhibits of her photography at the Pratt Institute (1897) and the New York Camera Club (1899) brought her recognition and the admiration of Alfred Stieglitz, and in 1902 she became a founding member of the Photo-Secession movement. A glimpse of the crusty, determined personality which enabled her to pursue photography is available in the "autobiographical notes" she composed late in life. In this section she records her impressions of meeting the sculptor Rodin.

From the Gertrude Käasebier papers, gift of Mason Turner, Jr.

Berta Ruck, 1878-1978.
Travel Journals, 1928-1937, 6 volumes.

These volumes of hybrid diaries, workbooks, and scrapbooks compiled by the Welsh novelist Berta Ruck, include partial drafts of her works in progress; photographs, postcards, pressed flowers, and other mementoes of her journeys; correspondence; and clippings of reviews of Ruck's novels or real life incidents she incorporated into her fiction. Ruck's travels span the European continent and North Africa.


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Last modified: 12/21/10

 


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