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Walter Savage Landor Papers

Date range: 1802-1864.

Papers of Walter Savage Landor (1775-1864), the irascible poet and prose author.

Although he wrote several volumes of lyric and epic poetry, today Landor is best remembered for his Imaginary Conversations of literary men and statesmen, published in five volumes between 1824 and 1829, which took the form of imagined dialogues between historical figures. An ardent classicist, he returned to the same genre many years later with his Imaginary Conversations of Greeks and Romans (1853).

The collection contains forty-one letters written by Landor, mainly in Italy. These record in intimate detail his daily life, his appraisal of his own works, and his views on classical and contemporary writers.

There is also a larger volume of correspondence concerning the publication of Imaginary Conversations. This principally comprises:

  • sixty letters written between March 1823 and November 1828 by Julius Charles Hare, who was acting as Landor’s agent, to the publisher John Taylor of Taylor and Hessey
  • two letters to Taylor’s partner, James Augustus Hessey
  • a single letter to Robert Southey, who assisted the publication

There are also drafts of letters from Taylor to Hare, Southey, and Landor’s cousin, Walter Landor. The correspondence reveals the freedom which Landor allowed Hare and Southey to emend his text.

Among the Elizabeth Gaskell manuscripts are three letters from Landor, a manuscript poem `To the author of Mary Barton’, and corrected page-proofs of part of Giovanna of Naples.

Finding aids

  • Catalogue available online via ELGAR.
  • Recorded in published handlist of English Manuscripts (English MSS 1237-1238).

Location

The John Rylands Library

Using the reading rooms in the John Rylands Library

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