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Charles Kent papers

Call Number: OSB MSS 78

Scope and Contents

The Charles Kent Papers consist of correspondence, writings, and personal papers documenting aspects of the professional and literary careers of the editor and author Charles Kent. The collection has been organized into three series: Series I, Correspondence; Series II, Writings, and Series III, Personal Papers. The papers span the dates 1783-1910, with the bulk of the material dating from between 1860 and 1900.

Series I, Correspondence , housed in Boxes 1-2, spans the years 1831- 1910 and is organized into three subseries: General Correspondence, Copies of Letters to Charles Kent, and Third-Party Correspondence. Each subseries is arranged alphabetically by name of correspondent.

The first subseries, General Correspondence, consists mainly of single letters addressed to Kent on professional and literary matters. Topics include articles recently published or proposed; thanks for books sent by Kent; corrections to items that appeared in Kent's newspapers; and general personal news and expressions of shared Catholic faith. Letters with significant or unusual subject interest have been described more fully in the box and folder listing. Correspondents represented by more than two letters include E. L. Blanchard; F. C. Burnand, the editor of Punch; Sir Edward Maunde Thompson; the novelist Laura Valentine; C. J. Vaughan; and Samuel Warren.

The second subseries, Copies of Letters to Charles Kent, contains copies made by Kent of letters from figures including Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins, and William Harrison Ainsworth.

The third subseries, Third-Party Correspondence, includes letters and evidence from Monsignor T. J. Capel concerning his dispute with Cardinal Manning in 1882-83; and Cardinal Manning's last letter to his mother before her death in 1847, with a note from him on the circumstances of the correspondence.

Series II, Writings , is housed in Box 3 and is organized into two subseries: Books and Pamphlets and Shorter Works. Shorter Works itself is further subdivided into into Articles, Poems, and Reviews. The papers span the dates 1847-1898 and consist primarily of production papers such as page proofs, ancillary material including advertisements, reviews and distribution lists, and, in the case of Poems, holographs or typescripts of indiviudal works.

The first subseries, Books and Pamphlets, is arranged alphabetically by title. Poems (1870 edition) and Leigh Hunt as Poet and Essayist are represented by page proofs in various states. Folder x contains a largely positive review of Kent's earliest collection of poems, the 1850 Aletheia.

There are twelve folders of papers documenting some of Kent's work on Corona Catholica, including various lists of potential and actual contributors and of the fifty languages in which the translations appeared; a folder of research notes on the Prophecy of St. Malachy concerning the future of the Papacy, which was referenced in the original Latin epigram; a holograph dummy of a projected layout for the collection; the text of Kent's dedicatory preface in English and Latin; and reviews and announcements.

Other material in the subseries includes sales figures for The Life of Charles Lamb and a few papers relating to Kent's projected collection of translations of hymns from the Roman Breviary.

The second subseries, Shorter Works, largely contains holographs, typescripts and printed versions of brief works by Kent. Among these are a proof printing of an obituary for Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, whose death was expected at the time Kent composed it; a holograph draft of an article on Edgar Allen Poe, accompanied by a rejection letter from Blackwood's; and a typescript of an article on Kent's experiences among the artists and writers of Chelsea in the 1870s and 1880s. There are also holograph copies of several poems composed during Kent's European travels in 1869, including "The Judgement of St. Gudule" and "Salome," on a visit to the studio of William Wetmore Story.

Series III, Personal Papers , spans the dates 1783-1902 and is organized into eight alphabetically arranged subseries: Artwork; Biographical Information; Family Papers; Journals and Notebooks; Photographs; Printed Material; and Research Material.

The subseries Biographical Information contains papers documenting Kent's education, work, club memberships, and marriage to Ann Young Kent, including a few items related to her own creative writing. Family Papers contains several items connected to the naval career of Captain William Kent, including his commission as Fourth Lieutenant of the Blenheim, an account of stock, and a promissory note for Calcutta rupees; and other papers, such as genealogical notes and a copy of the marriage certificate of Kent's father-in-law, Murdo Young.

The subseries Journals and Notebooks contains a daily diary with routine entries from 1892; several small memorandum books, undated; and Kent's "Journal of a Six Week Tour," written during his 1869 travels to attend the opening of Vatican I. In addition to sightseeing descriptions and transportation details, the journal contains lengthy accounts of conversations with fellow journalists in most of the major European cities; his contacts with Cardinal Manning and William Wetmore Story in Rome; and visits in Florence with the sculptor Charles Fuller and the novelist T. A. Trollope.

Memorabilia and Other Papers is housed in folders xx-xx and consists largely of items kept by Kent as souvenirs. These include Thomas Moore's letter of admission to the Inner Temple; a petition for the relief of Lamb's friend, the actress Francis Maria Kelly; scraps of music saved from the 1865 Covent Garden Theater fire; and a document relating to negotiations between the Paris Commune and the Thiers forces for the exchange of Georges Darboy, Archbishop of Paris and Louis Blanqui, dated two weeks before the Archbishop was shot at Roquette.

The subseries Printed Material includes holy cards collected by Kent; advertisements, calling cards, and newspaper clippings, including four folders on the death of Benjamin Disraeli, Lord Beaconfield. Photographs contains a view of the first cathedral built at Lourdes, autographed by the parish priest to whom Bernadette Soubouris confided her visions;

Material housed in other subseries includes a caricature by E. L. Blanchard, a silhouette portrait, and a watercolor of the Vatican coat of arms in Artwork; and research notes and library call slips in Research Materials.

Oversize material is housed in Box 6 in series order.


  • 1783-1910


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Restricted Fragile in box 7 may only be consulted with permission of the appropriate curator. Preservation photocopies or photographic prints for reference use have been substituted in the main files.

Conditions Governing Use

The Charles Kent Papers are 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 from John Hart on the James Marshall and Marie-Louise Osborn Fund, 1999.


3.63 Linear Feet (6 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL


Series I, Correspondence, consists almost entirely of single letters to Charles Kent on professional and literary topics. Significant correspondents include E. L. Blanchard; F. C. Burnand, editor of Punch; E. M. Thompson; Laura Valentine; and Samuel Warren. The series also contains a letter from Lamartine praising Kent's poetry; Cardinal Manning's last letter to his mother; and copies of letters addressed to Kent from literary figures such as Charles Dickens, Robert Browning, and Lord Lytton.
Series II, Writings, contains papers related to several of Kent's works, including page proofs for Leigh Hunt as Poet and Essayist and Poems (1870); preliminary materials for Corona Catholica; several leader articles for The Sun and the Weekly Register, including an obituary prepared in expectation of the death of the Prince of Wales in 1871; and holograph versions of several poems by Kent.
Series III, Personal Papers, contains biographical and family papers; a journal kept by Kent during his travel to Rome in 1869; and a small quantity of memorabilia and other papers, including a document relating to hostage negotiations by the Paris Commune in 1870.

CHARLES KENT, 1823-1902

Charles William Mark Kent was born in London on November 3, 1823. The eldest son of the Roman Catholic naval officer William Kent, he was educated at Prior Park, Bath and St. Mary's College, Oscott. In 1845 he succeeded William Frederick Deacon as editor of the liberal evening newspaper, The Sun, and in 1850 he purchased it from Murdo Young, whose daughter Ann he married in 1853.

He edited and published the newspaper until its failure in 1871. One of the first dailies to offer book reviews, many of which Kent wrote, The Sun offered frequent leading articles on the political issues of the day, also authored by him. Several of these, including "The Gladstone Government, by A Templar," were published separately under pseudonyms.

During his editorship, Kent also published several literary works, including Aletheia, or, The Doom of Mythology and Other Poems (1850); frequent contributions to Household Words and All the Year Round, both edited by his friend Charles Dickens; a poem welcoming Longfellow to England in 1868; and his collected Poems in 1870. In 1869 Kent attended the preliminary sessions of the Vatican I Ecumenical Council in Rome.

After the failure of The Sun, Kent devoted his time to editing the Weekly Register, a Roman Catholic journal, from 1874-1881, and to producing a series of biographies and editions devoted to English authors. These include The Works of Charles Lamb (1874), containing a memoir of his life with details supplied by the actress Frances Maria Kelly; The Wit and Wisdom of Lord Lytton (1883); The Humour and Pathos of Charles Dickens (1884); and Leigh Hunt as an Essayist (1888). In 1880 he published Corona Catholica, a work containing translations into 50 languages of an epigram on the accession of Leo XIII to the Papacy.

In 1887 Kent received a Civil List Pension, and in his final years contributed several articles to the Dictionary of National Biography. He and his wife had five sons and two daughters; two of the sons predeceased him. He died at his home in Campden Hill on February 23, 1902 and was buried in the Roman Catholic cemetary in Kensal Green.

Guide to the Charles Kent 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

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