The collection comprises sketchbooks, writings, and correspondence by Charles Robert Leslie (1794-1859) and his family. Leslie was known best for his paintings of literary subjects, although his oeuvre included portraiture, history paintings, and selected literary works. The collection was compiled by Leslie's son, George Dunlop Leslie, also a celebrated genre painter, and represents the years, 1812 to 1900. The collection includes documents related to Leslie's wife, Harriet, as well as some of his children, Mary, Harriet, George, and Robert Charles. Additional materials include correspondence from Tom Taylor and Peter Powell, representing some of Leslie's most important professional and personal relationships.
The largest portion of correspondence comprises letters from Leslie's wife, Harriet. The letters were originally placed in a paper folder (appearing to date from the time of George Dunlop's selection of these items) with a note reading, "Letters cheifly [sic] from Mrs Leslie to C.R. Leslie RA mostly from different sea-side places. Broadstairs, Benbridge, Brighton, etc. dates between 1836 1850. also some from the children at the same time to their father C.R. Leslie./ also a few answers from CRL/ very amusing & characteristic examined & selected by G.D. Leslie 1898."