Literary Manuscripts Leeds

Sources from The Brotherton Library, University of Leeds

This project opens up new opportunities for the reading, study and appreciation of early modern verse and provides valuable source materials for both literary scholars and historians.

This resource offers literary scholars the opportunity to examine manuscripts of 17th and 18th century verse held in the celebrated Brotherton Collection at the University of Leeds. Alongside original compositions are copied verses, translations, songs and riddles.

The whole collection is situated within an assortment of manuscripts, some entirely dedicated to poetry, while others contain medicinal recipes, household accounts, draft letters, musical scores and plays. There are also several printed works, with handwritten verse additions.

The online presentation of the Brotherton Library poetry manuscripts represents a revolution in the history of poetry appreciation. Modern printed editions of verse are often very different from the manuscript originals, and much valuable manuscript verse has never found its way into print. Readers now have in one collection access to some remarkable, unusual poetry known only in the past to a handful of people, and to the ways in which manuscript verse was originally recorded and circulated. Engaging with these materials is a deeply enriching experience.
Professor Nigel Smith, Department of English, Princeton University

Key Data

Period Covered

  • 17th - 18th Century

Highlights

  • All manuscripts are linked to the powerful BCMSV database which lists first lines, last lines, attribution, author, title, date, length, verse form, content, bibliographic references, MS and record number for over 6,600 poems within the collection.
  • View the way in which manuscript verse was originally recorded, read and circulated.
  • Examine the ways in which public and private spheres were defined through such manuscripts.
  • Many different types of manuscript are represented - from elegant presentation volumes to commonplace books and volumes of household accounts - these show the context of the poetry and are valuable sources for social and cultural history.
  • Poets represented include Mary Campbell, John Dryden, George Herbert, Mary Leapor, Andrew Marvell, Alexander Pope, Hester Pulter and Jonathan Swift. There are also countless songs, riddles and popular tags which tell us even more about contemporary society.

Source Archive

  • The Brotherton Library, University of Leeds

Material Types

  • Original manuscripts from the Brotherton Library Collection of 17th and 18th century verse. All of the manuscripts have been captured in their entirety. Most of the volumes contain verse. All of the manuscripts have been described and indexed in general terms and all of the verse is accessible through the integrated BCSMV database.

Editorial Board

  • Paul Hammond, Department of English, University of Leeds
  • Laura Runge, Department of English, University of South Florida
  • Chris Sheppard, Curator of Manuscripts, the Brotherton Library, University of Leeds
  • Nigel Smith, Department of English, Princeton University
  • Many thanks to the late Professor Harold Love (Emeritus Professor in the School of Literary, Visual and Performance Studies, Monash University) for his valuable contribution to this project.

Subjects

  • 17th and 18th century English literature and cluture
  • Poetry - Poems and verses range from well-known poems by canonical authors to amateur verse, covering a huge variety of topics
  • Large verse miscellanies and commonplace books
  • Religious and political texts

Key Features

  • Biographical details of key authors and palaeography, providing transcriptions and alphabets of 17th century texts
  • Linked to the powerful BCMSV database which lists first lines, last lines, attribution, author, title, date, length, verse form, content, bibliographic references, MS and record number for over 6,600 poems within the collection
  • Essays by leading academics