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Lansing V. Hammond collection of Hugh Thomson

Call Number: GEN MSS 69

Scope and Contents

The Lansing V. Hammond Collection of Hugh Thomson consists of material collected by Hammond documenting the life and career of Hugh Thomson. The collection contains correspondence, writings, drawings and other artwork, newspaper clippings and other papers, and has been arranged in four series: Correspondence, Writings, Artwork, and Other Materials.

Series I, Correspondence (1883-1958), contains original letters from Thomson, as well as typescript and holograph transcripts of his letters. These transcripts were most likely made by M. H. Spielmann, a Thomson friend and scholar, in preparation for his biography (co-authored with Walter Jerrold) Hugh Thomson, His Art, His Letters, His Humor and His Charm (1931). Also included are copies and a few originals of letters from Spielmann, letters to Spielmann, and some third-party letters.

Series II, Writings (1892-1935), contains research notes, written reminiscences about Thomson by various people, holograph and typescript drafts, proofs, reviews and other materials related to Spielmann's Thomson biography. Also included are writings by M. H. Amshewitz, Isidore Spielmann, John Vinycomb, and materials related to M. H. Spielmann's entry on Thomson for the Dictionary of National Biography.

Series III, Artwork (1879-1923), contains original ink, pencil and watercolor works by Thomson, primarily created as book and magazine illustrations. Illustrations for works by James Lane Allen, F. J. Harvey Darton, Mary Russell Mitford, and William Makepeace Thackeray are well represented in the collection. Also included in this series are works by C. E. Brock and H. M. Brock.

Series IV, Other Materials (1887-1957), includes newspaper clippings, exhibition catalogs and invitations, printed material, sales catalogs, dust jackets, photographs and other papers.


  • 1879-1958


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Restricted Fragile materials in box 12 may only be consulted with permission of the appropriate curator. Preservation photocopies for reference use have been substituted in the main files.

Conditions Governing Use

The Lansing V. Hammond Collection of Hugh Thomson 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

Gift of Lansing V. Hammond, 1942-1966.


7 Linear Feet ((12 boxes) + 2 broadside folders)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL


Collection contains materials collected by Lansing V. Hammond documenting the life and career of Hugh Thomson, including correspondence, writings, artwork and other papers. Correspondence includes originals and copies of letters by Thomson, as well as correspondence of M. H. Spielmann, friend and co-author with Walter Jerrold of the Thomson biography entitled Hugh Thomson, His Art, His Letters, His Humor and His Charm, with Thomson's widow Jessie Naismith Miller Thomson, Walter Jerrold and others. Writings include research notes, drafts, proofs and other materials related to Spielmann's biography of Thomson. Artwork contains many original drawings and watercolors by Thomson, some copies and photographs of his works, and drawings by C. E. Brock and H. M. Brock. Other papers include clippings, catalogs of exhibitions, printed material, sales catalogs and other material related to Thomson.

HUGH THOMSON, 1860-1920

Hugh Thomson was born on 1 June 1860 in Coleraine, Northern Ireland. He was educated in Coleraine, and as a young man worked for Marcus Ward & Co., a Belfast publishing company. While employed there, he was befriended by John Vinycomb, the head of the company's Art Department and a member of the Royal Irish Academy, who served as an early mentor for the artist. Thomson moved to London in 1883, where he met William Comyns Carr, the editor of The English Illustrated Magazine. Thomson submitted his artwork to the magazine, and he soon became a frequent contributor. In 1884 he married Jessie Naismith, a woman from Belfast, with whom he had one son.

While Thomson often contributed illustrations to periodicals such as The English Illustrated Magazine and The Graphic, he was perhaps better known through his illustrations of popular books. He illustrated a series of books called Highways and Byways, many new editions of works by Jane Austen, Charles Dickens and George Eliot, as well as more contemporary works by James Lane Allen and Austin Dobson.

After several years of poor health, Thomson died of heart disease on 7 May 1920 in England.

Guide to the Lansing V. Hammond Collection of Hugh Thomson
Under Revision
by Kathryn Rawdon
March 1999
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.