Skip to main content

Cadell & Davies records

Call Number: GEN MSS 510

Scope and Contents

The Cadell & Davies Records consist primarily of correspondence, receipts, bank notes and legal agreements relating to the publishing and bookselling business of Cadell & Davies. The records are organized into one series, Series I. Business Files , and are alphabetically arranged by correspondent. The papers span the dates 1767 to 1831 though the bulk of the material falls in the period 1790 to 1820.

Incoming correspondence from authors and prospective book purchasers, some annotated by the publishers, is interfiled with copies of replies written by Thomas Cadell and William Davies. The records also include a few letters addressed to the elder Thomas Cadell, as well as notes from printers such as Richard Watts and Luke Hansard. These letters have been interfiled chronologically within the correspondence files.

The correspondence typically concerns negotiations between the author and Cadell & Davies. The letters offer insight into the complex network of relations among printer, engraver, publisher, and author; the roles that subscribers and patrons played in supporting the printing of specific works; the impact that advertising and literary reviews were believed to have on sales; and the difficulties of contemporary transport. The records also detail financial transactions, printing expenses, and the firm's contractual arrangements with authors and other booksellers.

The largest single correspondence is that between Charlotte Turner Smith and Cadell & Davies, which numbers over 130 letters, and provides an ongoing account of the circumstances prompting her literary career. In a letter dated October 20, 1797, she wrote that she was "too acutely sensible of the misery, the humiliation of being compelled, with so handsome a fortune of my own, and such claims on behalf of my children to be dependent on my writing... doomed from year to year to invent fable for the public & to take as a favor any price offered." The correspondence also includes Charlotte Smith's opinions of her worth as a writer, details about her family life and writing process, and information about the publication of Elegiac Sonnets (1789-1800), Rural Walks (1795), and Rambles Farther (1800).

The records also contain a significant amount of correspondence between Cadell & Davies and the travel writer Edward Daniel Clarke, primarily regarding the publication of his Travels (1810-1824) and ongoing contractual disputes. The historian Nathaniel Wraxhall's letters offer heated commentary on the Napoleonic Wars (1800-1815). Other correspondents with substantial material include George Huntingford, William Magee, Edward Maltby, Isaac Milner, and Charles Simeon.

Wrappers that previously enclosed the records have been placed at the end of the series in two folders. These wrappers include earlier cataloging information and occasionally provide biographical notes about correspondents.


  • 1767 - 1831


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The Cadell & Davies Records 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

Gift of the Library Associates (purchased from Stonehill), 1939.


1.67 Linear Feet (4 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL


Correspondence, promissory notes, receipts, and statements of account documenting the publishing and bookselling business of Cadell & Davies. The records include letters from contemporary authors and printers, as well as substantial correspondence with the poet and novelist Charlotte Turner Smith. Other correspondents include Edward Daniel Clarke, George Huntingford, William Magee, Edward Maltby, Isaac Milner, Charles Simeon, and Nathaniel Wraxall.


The British publishing and bookselling firm of Cadell & Davies was established in 1793 when Thomas Cadell the elder (1742-1802) retired from the publishing world, bequeathing his business to his apprentice, William Davies (d. 1820), and his son, Thomas Cadell (1773-1836). The new partners located their firm on the Strand in London, with Davies managing most of the partnership's affairs until he became ill in 1813. Cadell consequently became more involved with the firm's business, establishing himself and the publishing house as major players in the London book trade. After Davies's death in 1820, Cadell began publishing under his own name.

The firm was dissolved in 1836 when Thomas Cadell died, although several years passed before the Cadell imprint disappeared. Remaining stocks and copyrights were sold in 1840.

For additional information, see The Publishing Firm of Cadell & Davies: Select Correspondence and Accounts, 1793-1836, edited with an introduction and notes by Theodore Besterman (London: Oxford Univ. Press, 1938).

Processing Information

This finding aid was produced from a previously existing card set in the Manuscripts Catalog, or from another inventory. All pertinent bibliographical information has been retained. If the collection also contains unlisted or unsorted material, this has been noted in the box-and-folder list.

Guide to the Cadell & Davies Records
Under Revision
by Beinecke Staff
July 1996
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
New Haven CT 06520-8330 US
(203) 432-2977


121 Wall Street
New Haven, CT 06511

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.