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Richard L. Purdy Collection of Thomas Hardy

Call Number: GEN MSS 111

Scope and Contents

The Richard L. Purdy Collection of Thomas Hardy consists of manuscripts, letters, photographs, graphic materials, and printed materials, most of which relate to the life and works of Thomas Hardy (1840-1928). A group of papers from Hardy's literary executor, Sydney Cockerell, is included in this archive. The collection also contains manuscripts and memorabilia pertaining to others. The collection spans the years 1753-1981; the bulk derives from the years of Hardy's most prolific writing, 1880-1927.

The collection is housed in 30 boxes and is divided into six series: Writings of Thomas Hardy; Thomas Hardy Correspondence; Thomas Hardy Association Material; Thomas Hardy Research Material; Sydney C. Cockerell Papers; and Non-Hardy Material. Boxes 26-30 contain Oversize material.

Series I, Writings of Thomas Hardy , holds a representative sampling of manuscript materials, including holograph items such as the poems "The Division," "A Jingle on the Times," "A Last Leaving" and "Yellow-hammer," and corrected proofs for the serialized version of The Hand of Ethelberta. Among the rarer items from Hardy found in this series are a very early notebook titled "Studies, Specimens, &c." (dating from the 1860s) and a facsimile of "Dorothy Allhusen's Appeal Letter." In addition to the holographic materials, Purdy also collected clippings which appeared in newspapers and magazines during Hardy's lifetime. These include poems and letters to the editor. Several privately printed pamphlets of Hardy poems, most of which, as with "Yuletide in a Younger World," are present in proof and final printed versions, are also held. A brief subseries of Writings of Others contains four printed items concerning Hardy and a proof of Lady Grove's The Social Fetich, corrected by Hardy and accompanied by letters from him and from Emma Hardy.

Series II contains Thomas Hardy Correspondence . Most of the letters found here have been published in Richard Purdy and Michael Millgate's Collected Letters of Thomas Hardy. Unidentified letters are so listed in the Collected Letters.... The first subseries contains letters addressed to Hardy; the second, letters written by him; the third, third party correspondence between Hardy's contemporaries and associates. Family members are well-represented by such correspondents as Edward, Emma, and Constance Dugdale and Emma, Florence, and Katharine Hardy. Purdy's collection features a number of early letters from Hardy to Havelock Ellis, George Du Maurier, Thomas Macquoid, Edward Marston, John Morley, Handley Moule, and William Moy Thomas. More extensive files of letters to Dorothy Allhusen, George Gissing, Sir George Forrest, Lady Grove, Mary Jeune (later Lady St. Helier), Nancy Meugens, Arthur Wing Pinero, William Strang and Arthur Symons can also be found here. The subseries Third Party correspondence contains correspondence of Emma Hardy, Florence Hardy, and Dorothy Allhusen with, among others, E. M. Forster, J. M. Barrie, Sir George Douglas, Howard Bliss, and T. E. Lawrence.

Series III, Thomas Hardy Association Material , contains other Hardy memorabilia collected by Richard Purdy. These are arranged by medium and include leaves from diaries from Eva Dugdale and Florence Hardy, scrapbooks from Constance Dugdale, a watercolor by Thomas Hardy, a floor plan for an antique building by Thomas Hardy, a portrait of Hardy by Reginald Eves and bookplates for the Max Gate Library. Among the photographs are scenes of Dorchester, portraits of Florence Hardy and Max Gate, and various poses of Thomas Hardy with admirers. This series also contains a number of programs for plays adapted from Thomas Hardy's writings.

Series IV consists of Thomas Hardy Research Material . Among the nine subseries are articles, four boxes of auction and booksellers' catalogs featuring Hardy material, and clippings from newspapers and magazines. The correspondence subseries documents Purdy's contacts with associates and the Hardy family, including files of correspondence with Dorothy Allhusen, Howard Bliss, Constance Dugdale, Ethel Dugdale-Richardson, Eva Dugdale, Florence Hardy, and Margaret and Tom Soundy. The remaining subseries consist of ephemera (including family trees of Hardy and related families), printed material, subject files (which include documents concerning Thomas Hardy's supposed illegitimate son and the "Old Clock" poem controversy), wills from several members of Hardy's family, and writings by Purdy, including his manuscript notebooks and loose notes describing his meetings with Florence Hardy and Sydney Cockerell. Complementing these notes are transcripts of letters sent by Purdy to his parents during his trips to England. These are classified as part of the Correspondence section.

Series V, Sydney Cockerell Papers , consists of items gathered by Purdy from Sydney Cockerell. Most of these materials complement Richard Purdy's own research materials. The correspondence subseries includes letters from Howard Bliss, Florence Hardy, Katharine Hardy, and Thomas Hardy. Among the few items in Cockerell's third party correspondence are a letter written by Florence Hardy to John Hornby and a letter written by T. E. Lawrence to John Hornby. Other material includes clippings about Hardy, notes on Cockerell's interaction with Hardy's publishers, a Hardy poem in Cockerell's hand, a variety of printed ephemera, including several theater programs, and copies of Florence and Thomas Hardy's wills.

Series, VI, Non-Hardy Material , is comprised of a variety of letters, manuscripts and graphic items relating mainly to English literary and artistic figures of the 18th and 19th centuries, also collected by Purdy. They include five letters each from Matthew Arnold and Robert Browning, three letters each from Arthur H. Hallam and Christina Rossetti, 11 letters from Dante Gabriel Rossetti to Theodore Watts-Dunton, 29 letters between George Smith and Leslie Stephen, and four letters from Alfred Lord Tennyson to Robert Monteith. Among the Writings are Robert Browning manuscript fragments, corrected works by Henry Reed, two holograph pieces by Alfred Lord Tennyson, and a copy of a speech delivered by Queen Victoria on the opening of the Royal Albert Hall, in the hand of Lt. General Grey. The few miscellaneous items include a scrapbook of American greeting and business promotional cards, two handcolored early American folding verses for children, items from an album by Browning's friend, André-Victor-Amédée, marquis de Ripert-Monclar, and photographs of Dante Gabriel Rossetti's tombstone and of Richard Wagner. Many of these items are accompanied by correspondence and/or receipts from the vendor to Richard Purdy.

An additional series added in September, 1999, Series VII. Materials removed from Printed Items , contains materials previously contained in printed items, which have been cataloged separately.

We wish to acknowledge with gratitude the valuable input received from Michael Millgate in the editing of this register. Subsequent identification of materials and instances of reorganization account for the number of "Empty folders" in the listing.


  • 1753-1981


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The Richard L. Purdy Collection of Thomas Hardy 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

The collection was officially bequeathed to the Beinecke Library in 1991, following the death of Professor Purdy.


20.15 Linear Feet (32 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL


The Richard L. Purdy Collection of Thomas Hardy consists of letters, manuscripts, and associated materials by and about the life of Thomas Hardy. Also included are papers from Sydney C. Cockerell, an associate of Hardy's, and also representative items from other English authors and artists such as Robert Browning and Alfred Lord Tennyson.

RICHARD L. PURDY (1904-1990)

Richard Little Purdy was born in Middletown, New York on April 21, 1904. He was graduated from Yale College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1925, followed by a Ph.D from Yale Graduate School in 1930. Purdy held the position of Associate Professor of English at Yale University and fellow of Berkeley College, acting from time to time as assistant to the Keeper of Rare Books for the University Library (1931-36), adviser on Victorian literature (1954-70), and chief marshall for the Yale commencement exercises (1962-70).

While organizing an exhibition of Thomas Hardy materials for the Yale University Library in 1928, Purdy entered into correspondence with Florence Hardy and started his personal collection of Thomas Hardy books, manuscripts and memorabilia. As his research proceeded on a definitive bibliography of Hardy's works, Purdy came to know Howard Bliss, Sydney Cockerell, Dorothy Allhusen, and several other of Hardy's contemporaries. Purdy first gained recognition as a Hardy scholar in 1940 when he announced that the biographies of Hardy supposedly written by Florence Hardy were, in fact, written by Hardy during his lifetime and finished by her. Purdy's Thomas Hardy: A Bibliographical Study, was published in 1954.

Though principally known as a Hardy scholar, Purdy also wrote about and collected other writers, including Robert Browning, Christina and Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and Alfred Lord Tennyson. His edition of Sheridan's The Rivals from the original Larpent manuscript was published in 1935 by the Clarendon Press. After his retirement from Yale in 1970, Purdy continued research on Thomas Hardy, publishing, with Michael Millgate, The Collected Letters of Thomas Hardy in seven volumes between 1978-88. Richard L. Purdy died in Chatham, New Jersey, on August 7, 1990.

Processing Information

Series VII., Materials removed from Printed Items was added in September, 1999.

Richard L. Purdy's collection of books by and about Hardy, which was included in the bequest, has been catalogued separately.

Guide to the Richard L. Purdy Collection of Thomas Hardy
by Timothy G. Young
September 1993
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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Opening Hours

Access Information

The Beinecke Library is open to all Yale University students and faculty, and visiting researchers whose work requires use of its special collections. You will need to bring appropriate photo ID the first time you register. Beinecke is a non-circulating, closed stack library. Paging is done by library staff during business hours. You can request collection material online at least two business days in advance of your visit, using the request links in Archives at Yale. For more information, please see Planning Your Research Visit and consult the Reading Room Policies prior to visiting the library.