UK Libraries Special Collections Research Center Digitizes Original Early English Romantics Manuscripts

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photo of print of Charles Lamb, Mary Lamb and the Lamb family
photo of Robert Southey letter to William Wordsworth
photo of Charles Lamb manuscript, "How I Want Thee, Humorous Hogarth"
headshot photo of Hugh Peal

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Feb. 5, 2018) University of Kentucky Libraries Special Collections Research Center recently organized and digitized the W. Hugh Peal Manuscript Collection, comprising approximately 7,000 items (43.94 cubic feet) of original letters and documents of English and American Romantic and early Victorian authors. The collection is available on the University of Kentucky digital library ExploreUK.

W. Hugh Peal (1898-1984) was a native Kentuckian, a lawyer and UK alumnus. He collected books, manuscripts and letters while a Rhodes Scholar in Oxford (where he obtained law degrees in 1924 and 1925) and continued during his law practice in New York City in the 1930s and 1940s. His collections, along with his acquisition books and journals, were donated to UK in 1981.

The Peal Manuscript Collection represents one of the strongest holdings of original documents of the early English Romantics in the United States. The core of the manuscript collection centers around the best-known Romantic authors, Charles Lamb (98 letters), Samuel Taylor Coleridge (51 letters), William Wordsworth (37 letters) and Robert Southey (64 letters and 16 manuscripts).  

American authors comprise approximately 900 items, including Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) and William Dean Howells.

There are manuscript letters or poems by virtually every significant English author who wrote during the period 1790 to 1830. English Victorian era authors (1830-1900) are also represented, including several letters from Charles Dickens, as well as English writers from 1880-1940. 

In addition, there are letters and manuscripts by French authors and politicians, including Jean Jacques Rousseau, Voltaire and Alexis de Tocqueville.

The Special Collections Research Center (SCRC) at UK Libraries sustains the Commonwealth’s memory and serves as the essential bridge between past, present and future. By preserving materials documenting the social, cultural, economic and political history of Kentucky, the SCRC provides rich opportunities for students to expand their worldview and enhance their critical thinking skills. SCRC materials are used by scholars worldwide to advance original research and pioneer creative approaches to scholarship. UK Libraries SCRC is the Archives, the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, the King Library Press, the Wendell H. Ford Public Policy Research Center, the Bert T. Combs Appalachian Collection, the John G. Heyburn Initiative and ExploreUK.

For more information on the Peal Collection, contact Sarah Dorpinghaus, director of Digital Services, at sarah.dorpinghaus@uky.edu or 857-257-3329, or Megan Mummey, collections management archivist, at megan.mummey@uky.edu or 859-257-6942

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