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Thomas Campbell papers

Call Number: OSB MSS 106

Scope and Contents

The Thomas Campbell Papers consist of correspondence, writings, commonplace books and other papers related to Thomas Campbell (1777-1844), a Scottish poet active during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. The papers span the years 1821-1846, and are housed in three boxes. They are organized into five series: Correspondence, Writings, Commonplace Books, Writings of Others, and Other Papers.

Series I, Correspondence , consists of an undated copy of a Thomas Jefferson letter (April 29, 1825) to Thomas Campbell, in which Jefferson answers Campbell's request on behalf of a Mr. Rose for advice on relocating to Virginia. Additional Thomas Campbell correspondence can be found in Series III, Commonplace Books.

Series II, Writings spans folders 2-27 and consists of writings of Thomas Campbell, 1821-39, arranged chronologically by date of publication. Writings consist of published and unpublished materials, including biographies of English poets, lectures on poetry and drama, poems by Campbell, English history timelines and research notes, and unidentified writings.

Papers related to Campbell's Specimens of the British Poets (London: John Murray, 1819) include manuscript drafts of portions of the introductory "Essay on English Poetry" and drafts of biographical essays on many English poets, including Geoffrey Chaucer, Edmund Spencer, John Milton, John Dryden, Alexander Pope, William Cowper, Robert Burns, and others. The series also includes manuscript biographies of poets not included in Specimens of British Poets.

Lectures include manuscript drafts of "Lectures on Poetry" and "Lectures on Drama," as well as a printed version of "Lectures on Poetry" from The New Monthly Magazine (London: Henry Colburn, 1821), which is interleaved into a notebook. Poems consist of an annotated copy of The Poetical Works of Thomas Campbell (London: Edward Moxon, Dover Street, 1839), which is interleaved into a notebook.

Additional writings include timelines of English history, 872-1189, research notes on several published works including Sharon Turner's The History of the Anglo-Saxons from the Earliest Period to the Norman Conquest and George Ellis's Specimens of Early English Metrical Romance, and unidentified writings.

Series III, Commonplace Books , consists of two volumes, ca. 1846, in folders 28-29. A commonplace book with the title "Campbell. Poems." includes "Reminiscences of the Poet" (1837-44) transcribed from a diary kept by Roylance Child; Thomas Campbell correspondence (ca. 1795-1841), including some mansucript copies and consisting of letters to and/or from the following correspondents: Thomas Moore, H. Brougham, Archibald Campbell (b. 1781, Campbell's brother), Archibald Campbell (Campbell's nephew), Margaret Campbell (Campbell's mother), W. D. Stewart, James Laurie, and George Campbell (no apparent relation); "Campbell's School poems and Translations, 1787-1792;" and clippings (1836). The second commonplace book, "Original Poems by Thomas Campbell," includes Thomas Campbell poems (1788-1840), probably transcribed by William Beattie; unidentified letters to Campbell (1809, 1831); a letter from his nephew Archibald Campbell (1842); letters to Beattie from James Wingate answering requests for copies of Campbell's poems (1846); and clippings.

Series IV, Writings of Others , consists of manuscript copies of poems written by poets other than Thomas Campbell, and is arranged alphabetically by author in folders 30-47. Includes poems by Robert Burns; John Davies; Francis Davison; Thomas Deloney; Henry Dundes; Charles Wyndham, Earl of Egremont; Abraham Fraunce; George Gascoigne; Stephen Hawes; Henry Peacham; James Shirley; Edward Thurlow; Baron Thurlow; Samuel Wesley; Nicholas Whiting; John Wilbye; Charles Harbury Williams; and Anne Finch, Countess of Winchelsea, as well as a few poems by unidentified authors.

Series V, Other Papers , is arranged chronologically in folders 48-49. It includes a summons in the case of "Frederick Campbell Stewart, Esq. of Ascog, against Ferdinand S. Campbell and the other Heirs of Entail to the Estates of Ascog;" and unidentified papers.


  • 1821 - 1846


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The Thomas Campbell Papers is the physical property of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. For further information, consult the appropriate curator.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchased at Sotheby's, 1966.


1.04 Linear Feet (3 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


Correspondence, writings, commonplace books, and other papers related to Thomas Campbell. Correspondence consists of a copy of a letter from Thomas Jefferson to Campbell. Campbell's writings include drafts of essays and biographies included in Specimens of British Poets; additional biographies of British poets; lectures on English poetry and drama; an annotated copy of The Poetical Works of Thomas Campbell; English history timelines, 872-1189; and research notes on English history and literature. Two commonplace books include correspondence to and from Campbell; "Reminiscences of the Poet" (1837-44) transcribed from a diary kept by Roylance Child; "Campbell's School Poems and Translations, 1787-1792;" poems by Campbell, possibly transcribed by William Beattie; and letters to Beattie from James Wingate regarding copies of Campbell's poems. Also includes manuscript copies of poems by various 17th and 18th century British poets. Other papers include a summons in a case of "Frederick Campbell Stewart, Esc. of Ascog, against Ferdinand S. Campbell and the other Heirs of Entail to the Estates of Ascog."


Thomas Campbell (1777-1844) was born in Glasgow on July 27, 1777, to Alexander and Margaret Campbell. He attended Glasgow University from 1791-95. He married Matilda Sinclair (ca. 1780-1828) on October 10, 1803, and had two sons.

A poet, Campbell published his most successful and popular poem, The Pleasures of Hope (Edinburgh: Mundell & Son) in 1799. Other major works include the war poems "Hohenlinden," "The Battle of the Baltic," and "Ye Mariners of England", as well as Gertrude of Wyoming (London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, and Orme, 1809) and Theodric (London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, Brown, and Green, 1824). Other writings include The Annals of Great Britain (Edinburgh: Mundell, Doig & Stevenson, 1807) and Specimens of the British Poets (London: John Murray, 1819).

Campbell served as editor of New Monthly Magazine (London: Henry Colburn, 1821-30) and was a successful public lecturer. He died in Boulogne on June 15, 1844, and was buried in Westminster Abbey on July 3.

Guide to the Thomas Campbell Papers
Under Revision
by Michael Rush
July 2005
Description rules
Beinecke Manuscript Unit Archival Processing Manual
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

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