John Wilson papers
Scope and Contents
Series I, Correspondence , is housed in folders 1-26 and arranged alphabetically by correspondent. The majority of the letters are addressed to the Glasgow booksellers John Smith & Son and concern the publication and distribution of The Isle of Palms. Correspondents include other booksellers; subscribers to the first edition; and customers of the Glasgow firm. Individual letters have been more fully described in the box and folder listing.
Folders 16-26 contain letters from Wilson himself to John Smith, Jr., who became a friend as well as a business associate. The first 28 letters date from 1810-1812 and are mostly concerned with Wilson's poetry and his keen interest in all aspects of the publication and sales of his first work. The remainder are briefer but contain personal news, requests for shipments of books and magazines, and occasional comments on Wilson's work for Blackwood's.
Series II, Other Papers , contains a holograph of Wilson's "Lines Raised to the Memory of the Rev. James Grahame;" copies of sonnets and of "The Endless Stream," all by Wilson; and a copy of the 1812 subscription list for The Isle of Palms.
Conditions Governing Access
Conditions Governing Use
Immediate Source of Acquisition
0.41 Linear Feet (1 box)
Language of Materials
A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog
JOHN WILSON, 1785-1854
In 1815 Wilson lost his inheritance due to a relative's mismanagement and returned to Scotland, where he was called to the bar in 1815. But his first interest continued to be literature, and in 1817 he joined with William Blackwood and John Gibson Lockhart to found Blackwood's Magazine. An ardent Tory, in 1820 Wilson was appointed to the Chair of Moral Philosophy at Edinburgh University through the support of his political allies. Despite the controversy that greeted his appointment, Wilson won respect as a dedicated and inspiring lecturer.
Wilson continued to be a prolific and frequent contributor to Blackwood's until the death of his wife in 1837. Some of his more popular pieces were collected and published as Lights and Shadows of Scottish Life (1822) and Noctes Ambrosianae, which appeared posthumously.
Wilson retired from his professorship in 1851 due to ill-health, and died in Edinburgh on April 3, 1854.
- Authors and publishers -- Great Britain -- 19th century
- Ballantyne, James, 1772-1833
- Ballantyne, John, 1774-1821
- Booksellers and bookselling -- Scotland
- Booksellers and bookselling -- Scotland -- Glasgow
- Constable, Archibald, 1774-1827
- Longman (Firm)
- Publishers and publishing -- Scotland -- History -- 19th century
- Wilson, John, 1785-1854
- Guide to the John Wilson Papers
- Under Revision
- by Diane J. Ducharme
- March 2003
- Description rules
- Beinecke Manuscript Unit Archival Processing Manual
- Language of description note
- Finding aid written in English.
Part of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Repository
P. O. Box 208330
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New Haven, CT 06511
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