George Eliot and George Henry Lewes collection
Scope and Contents
Charles Lewes had lent George Eliot's letters and journals to John Walter Cross, who was writing George Eliot's Life (1885). Apparently believing that they belonged to him, Cross retained them. On his death in 1924 they passed to his niece Miss Elsie Druce, who during the 1930's disposed of most of them in several sales at Sotheby's. Through the zealous interest of Professor Chauncey Brewster Tinker, who had been appointed Keeper of Rare Books in 1930, many of them were purchased for Yale. In that year he secured the largest single group, consisting of 620 letters to the Brays and the Hennells, which with 46 early letters to Maria Lewis formed the nucleus of the Yale collection. In 1931 George Eliot's Commonplace Book and her most important Journal (1854-61) were also acquired, as well as her Diary for 1880, and the travel journals of her trips to Germany (1858), to Italy (1860 and 1864), and to Normandy (1865). From his own collection Mr. Tinker gave among other manuscripts George Eliot's Journal (1861-77). Yale thus has all the extant journals and diaries except the diary for 1879, which is in the Berg Collection at the New York Public Library.
From Lewes's last surviving granddaughter Mrs. E. Carrington Ouvry (1877-1974), Yale secured the manuscript of "Brother Jacob" bound with that of "A College Breakfast-Party", and George Eliot's translation of Spinoza's Ethics. Of the greatest value to scholars are all of Lewes's extant journals and diaries except that for 1878, of which there is a microfilm. The manuscripts of five of Lewes's plays are included in the collection. There are several notebooks used for his Biographical History of Philosophy and Goethe's Life, and for his work on physiology and psychology, as well as many fragments of his Problems of Life and Mind, of which George Eliot completed and published the final volume.
Autograph letters have been added continually since the collection began. In 1975 there were more than 1,030 by George Eliot and 220 by G. H. Lewes. Of letters to and about them there were more than 1,040. The earliest family letters, including the only known one to George Eliot's father, were purchased in 1969 from the widow of his great-great-grandson Robert Evans, and George Eliot's letters to John Walter Cross and his family were purchased from Miss Druce's heir, Mr. Ian Maclean, in 1970.
[above written by] Gordon S. Haight.
Conditions Governing Access
Conditions Governing Use
Immediate Source of Acquisition
18.14 Linear Feet (67 boxes)
Language of Materials
Principal correspondents include members of the Lewes family, Caroline and Charles Bray, John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton, Barbara Leigh Smith Bodichon, John Chapman, Anna Chalmers and J. W. Cross, Alexandre D'Albert-Durade, Frederic Harrison, Sara Sophia Hennell, Frances Lucy Evans Houghton, Maria Lewis, Edward Robert Bulwer Lytton, Herbert Spencer, and Anthony Trollope.
This finding aid was created in the early 1980s as a typewritten list, and was converted into a ASCII data file by means of scanning and Optical Character Recognition software in the 1990s. While attempts were made to retain the complete information from the original document, a number of format changes were made to present the structure of this archive in accordance with current practice. Additional changes were made in 2020 to make the description compatible with current systems.
Microfilms of manuscripts owned by other libraries or individuals formerly held in this collection (as Section XI. Films of Manuscripts) were discarded by curatorial request April 1997.
The May 2022 Addition (Section XI) consists of material formerly classed as: Uncat MS Vault 653, Uncat MS Vault 715, and Uncat MS Vault 745.
- Acton, John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton, Baron, 1834-1902
- Authors -- Great Britain -- 19th century
- Authors, English -- 19th century -- Archives
- Bodichon, Barbara Leigh Smith, 1827-1891
- Bray, Caroline Hennell, 1814-1905
- Bray, Charles, 1811-1884
- Browning, Oscar, 1837-1923
- Burne-Jones, Georgiana, Lady, 1840-1920
- Chapman, John, 1822-1894
- Cross, Anna Chalmers, 1813-1878
- Cross, J. W. (John Walter), 1840-1924
- D'Albert-Durade, Alexandre Louis Francois, 1804-1886
- Eliot, George, 1819-1880
- Harrison, Frederic, 1831-1923
- Hennell, Sara S.
- Houghton, Frances Lucy Evans, 1805-1882
- Lewes, Charles Lee, 1843-1891
- Lewes, Edgar James, d. 1836?
- Lewes, George Henry, 1817-1878
- Lewes, Gertrude
- Lewes, Herbert Arthur, 1846-1875
- Lewes, Thornton
- Lewis, Maria, 1800?-1887
- Lytton, Edward Robert Bulwer Lytton, Earl of, 1831-1891
- Novelists, English -- 19th century -- Archives
- Photographic prints
- Spencer, Herbert, 1820-1903
- Trollope, Anthony, 1815-1882
- Guide to the George Eliot and George Henry Lewes Collection
- Under Revision
- by Gordon S. Haight and Marjorie G. Wynne
- 1975, updated 2022
- 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
121 Wall Street
New Haven, CT 06511
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