University of Delaware Library

Special Collections Department

Shirley Brooks Letters

1854 - 1874

Manuscript Collection Number: 246
Accessioned: Purchased June 1991
Extent: 37 items. 1 box.
Content: Letters.
Access: The collection is open for research.
Processed: Fall 1991 by Neva J. Specht.

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Table of Contents

Biographical Note

Charles William Shirley Brooks (1816-1874) was born and educated in London, England. Although he passed the Incorporated Law Society examination, he never practiced law. Instead, he chose to pursue careers as journalist, novelist, and dramatist. His first job was as a reporter on the House of Commons for the Morning Chronicle. In 1853, that same newspaper sent him abroad to cover labor and the poor in Russia, Syria, and Egypt. The letters he wrote during his travels were compiled and published under the title Russians of the South (1852).

Brooks was married to Emily Margot Walkinshaw, the daughter of a doctor from Trinidad. Throughout his career, Brooks associated with influential people in the literary field.

The plays he wrote and produced were well received in the literary community and included the following: The Creole (1847); Daughter of the Star (1850); The Exposition (1851); Olympics (1861); Guardian Angel; Lowther Arcade; Honors and Tricks; and Our New Governess. In addition to his success as a playwright, Brooks published extensively in popular periodicals and also wrote two novels: Aspen Court, A Story of Our Times (1853), and Gordian Knot (1858).

Brooks joined the staff of Punch in 1851. He wrote a column under the pen-name Epicurus Rotundus. In 1870, Brooks succeeded Mark Lemon as the editor of Punch, though he continued his prolific writing career until his death on February 23, 1874.


The Dictionary of National Biography. Vol II. ed. Sir Leslie Stephen and Sir Sidney Lee. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1973.

Scope and Content Note

The correspondence of C.W. Shirley Brooks consists of 37 letters from Brooks to various friends and acquaintances. The correspondence dates from 1854 to February 8, 1874, just two weeks before his death. Brooks's correspondence discusses literary matters, his health, social engagements, and editorial work.

The correspondence includes Brooks to the following: Sir William Howard Russell (1820-1907), famous war correspondent for the London Times whose story of "The Battle of Bull Run" published in 1861 in New York caused a serious controversy, and John Timbs (1801-1875), author and editor of over 150 works including Curiosities of London (1855).

Brooks also wrote to Charles Lamb Kinney (1821-1881), author, journalist, and songwriter with whom Brooks was associated on the staff of "The Man in the Moon," before joining Punch, and with whom he collaborated in dramatic work. Letters also went to James Griffen, esq., J. Mitchell, esq., J.W. Hampstede, and Charles Hicks, printer for Bradbury & Evans, the firm that printed Punch. Other letters included ones to R.J. Spiers of Oxford, Samuel Smiles (1812-1904), well-known author and social reformer, President of the National Provident life insurance company, and Henry Blackburn (1830-1897), author, journalist, and editor of London Security.

Brooks also corresponded with J.L. Caley, esq. from Pall Mall, Charles Kent, editor of the Sun newspaper, John Swain (1820-1909), wood engraver for Punch; Percival Leigh (1813-1889),comic writer, joined the staff of Punch in 1841, and was known by everyone on staff as "Professor", Lady Grant, and Sir Henry Thompson (1820-1904), a famous surgeon, who was also a landscape artist and novelist. Thompson was socially prominent for his "Octaves" (dinners of eight courses, for eight persons, at eight o'clock), at his house in Wimpole Street--and was a close friend of Brooks.


The complete collection of correspondence has been arranged in one chronological sequence. Approximate dates have been given to some of the undated material when a reasonable date can be estimated from the context of the letter and these letters are filed in the appropriate chronological order. All other undated correspondence is filed in the last folder behind dated items. Notes by an unidentified author containing partial transcription of the correspondence can be found in the Shirley Brooks Letters collection folder.

Contents List

Folder -- Contents

               C.W. Shirley Brooks Letters, 1854-1874.
               37 items, 37 leaves.  
               All letters are from C.W. Shirley Brooks.  Most letters are from his
               home located at 6 Kent Terrace, Regents Park, London, other
               addresses used are noted accordingly. Dates when available are
               included, as well as return address and person to whom the letter
               was written. 

F1     1854           [no address]        William Howard Russell, 
                                          ALS 2p (leaf)
       1 Nov          12 New Inn          John Timbs,
                                          ALS 2p (1 leaf)

       3 Aug          Literary Gazette    Charles Lamb Kenney,
                      Office              ALS 1p (1 leaf)
       [n.d]          [no address]        Charles Lamb Kenney, 
                                          ALS 1p (1      
       7 Sep          11 Bouverie St. E   Charles Hicks, 
                                          ALS 2p (1 leaf)

       [n.d]          6 Kent Terrace      William Howard Russell,
                                          ALS 2p (1 leaf)
F2     1864:
       24 Mar         [no address]        R.J. Spiers, 
                                          ALS 2p (1 leaf)

       24 Jun         [no address]        R.J. Spiers,   
                                          ALS 2p (1 leaf)

       [Aug?]         [no address]        R.J. Spiers, 
                                          ALS 2p (1 leaf)

       15 Dec         6 Kent Terrace      R.J. Spiers, 
                                          ALS 2p (1 leaf)

F3     1867:
       14 Jan         6 Kent Terrace      Samuel Smiles, 
                                          ALS 1p (1 leaf)

       27 Jan         6 Kent Terrace      William Howard Russell, 
                                          ALS 1p (1 leaf)

       2 May          6 Kent Terrace      J. Mitchell, 
                                          ALS 2p (1 leaf)

       1 Jun          6 Kent Terrace      Henry Blackburn, 
                                          ALS 2p (1 leaf)

       [n.d.]         6 Kent Terrace      J.L. Caley, 
                                          ALS 2p (1 leaf)

       [n.d.]         Scarborough         J.L. Caley, 
                                          ALS 1p (1 leaf)

       [n.d.]         6 Kent Terrace      J.L. Caley, 
                                          ALS 1p (1 leaf)

       9 Jan          6 Kent Terrace      Joseph Swain, 
                                          ALS 2p (1 leaf)

       13 May         6 Kent Terrace      Charles Kent, 
                                          ALS w/envelope 1p (1 leaf)

       26 Oct         Literary Gazette    James Griffin, 
                      Office              ALS 1p (1 leaf)
F4     1870:
       10 Jan         6 Kent Terrace      Percival Leigh, 
                                          ALS 1p (1 leaf)

       [n.d.] Oct     [no address]        Lady Grant, 
                                          ALS 2p (1 leaf)

       [n.d.]         [no address]        Joseph Swain, 
                                          ALS 1p (1 leaf)
       [n.d.]         [no address]        Joseph Swain, 
                                          ALS 1p (1 leaf)

       [n.d.]         Granby [hotel]      Joseph Swain, 
                                          ALS 2p (1 leaf)

       9 Jul          Punch office,       Henry Blackburn, 
                      85 Fleet Street     ALS 2p (1 leaf)
       15 Nov         6 Kent Terrace      Henry Blackburn,
                      [Punch office       ALS 1p (1 leaf)
                      address crossed 
F5     1872:
       17 Jan         [no address]        Henry Blackburn, 
                                          ALS 1p (1 leaf)

       13 Mar         6 Kent Terrace      Charles Lamb Kinney, 
                                          ALS 2p (1 leaf)

       15 Mar         6 Kent Terrace      Henry Blackburn, 
                                          ALS 2p (1 leaf)

       28 Mar         [no address]        Charles Lamb Kinney, 
                                          ALS 2p (1 leaf)

       25 Apr         6 Kent Terrace      Charles Lamb Kinney, 
                                          ALS 2p (1 leaf)

       25 May         Whitefriers,        Henry Blackburn, 
                      London              ALS 1p (1 leaf)

       22 Sept        Granby Hotel        William Howard Russell, 
                      Housegate           ALS 2p (1 leaf)
F6     1874:
       8 Feb          6 Kent Terrace      Sir Henry Thompson, 
                                          ALS 1p (1 leaf)

       [no year]: 
       21 Apr         [no address]        J. Mitchell, 
                                          ALS 1p (1 leaf)

       18 Aug         [Punch office       J. W. Hampstede, 
                      address crossed     ALS 1p (1 leaf)
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