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Holman Hunt Papers

Date range: 1843–1911.

The Library holds arguably the world’s finest collection of papers of the Pre-Raphaelite painter William Holman Hunt (1827–1910).

The papers comprise diaries recording his visits to Egypt and Palestine in the 1850s, and over 300 letters. They are of great value to art historians, as they contain comments on the progress of major works such as The Hireling Shepherd, The Light of the World, The Awakening Conscience, The Scapegoat, The Shadow of Death, The Triumph of the Innocents and May Morning on Magdalen Tower.

The letters also contain references to important contemporaries such as Augustus Egg, Michael Frederick Halliday, Sir John Everett Millais, Coventry Patmore, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Alfred Lord Tennyson.

There are forty-nine letters to his close friend Edward Lear, thirty-five to Thomas Combe, director of the Clarendon Press and patron of Pre-Raphaelite artists, and a further twenty-four to the painter Frederic James Shields.

In 2006 the Library secured the purchase of an important set of nine detailed letters from Holman Hunt to his fellow painter Thomas Seddon, which had previously been held on loan. The letters date from the period 1852–5 and are primarily concerned with the painting expedition to the Near East which the two artists undertook in 1854–5.

See also

Finding aids

  • Catalogue available online via ELGAR.
  • Recorded in published handlist of English Manuscripts (English MSS 1210-1216, 1239, 1268, 1275).

Altternative form

Published microfilm: John Ruskin, the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, and Arts and Crafts Movement: the Ruskin, Holman Hunt, Fairfax Murray, Spielmann and Related Collections from the John Rylands University Library, Manchester (Woodbridge: Research Publications, 1990).


The John Rylands Library

Using the reading rooms in the John Rylands Library