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COLLECTION Identifier: MS Thr 444

Samuel Phelps papers


Professional and personal correspondence, scripts, and promptbooks of English actor and theater manager Samuel Phelps.


  • 1835-1886
  • Majority of material found in 1843-1871

Language of Materials

Collection materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on physical access to this material. Collection is open for research.


1.5 linear foot (3 boxes)

Contains correspondence, both professional and personal, the bulk being to his wife and children; manuscript actors' sides; promptbooks; printed scripts and part books; writings by Phelps; and miscellaneous material relating to his theatrical career and personal life.

Biographical / Historical

Phelps, a noted tragedian, took over the management of Sadler's Wells Theatre, London, in 1843, and presented a series of major Shakespearean revivals. His productions were notable for their pageantry as well as for Phelps' efforts to restore the Shakespearean text.


Organized into the following series:

  1. I. Correspondence
  2. II. Compositions
  3. III. Personal materials
  4. IV. Theatrical materials.
  5. V. Unprocessed editions and prompt copies
  6. ___A. Manuscripts
  7. ___B. Manuscript sides
  8. ___C. Printed part books and acting copies
  9. ___D. Promptbooks
  10. ___E. Editions and lightly marked copies
  11. ___F. Addenda

Immediate Source of Acquisition

2003MT-145. Source unknown.

2016MT-81. Gift of Jane and Bernard McNamee and family, 2017 June.

Processing Information

A portion of this collection is processed (Series IV-V).

Phelps, Samuel, 1804-1878. Samuel Phelps papers, 1835-1886 (MS Thr 444): Guide.
Houghton Library, Harvard College Library
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Houghton Library Repository

Houghton Library is Harvard College's principal repository for rare books and manuscripts, archives, and more. Houghton Library's collections represent the scope of human experience from ancient Egypt to twenty-first century Cambridge. With strengths primarily in North American and European history, literature, and culture, collections range in media from printed books and handwritten manuscripts to maps, drawings and paintings, prints, posters, photographs, film and audio recordings, and digital media, as well as costumes, theater props, and a wide range of other objects. Houghton Library has historically focused on collecting the written record of European and Eurocentric North American culture, yet it holds a large and diverse number of primary sources valuable for research on the languages, culture and history of indigenous peoples of the Americas, Africa, Asia and Oceania.

Houghton Library’s Reading Room is free and open to all who wish to use the library’s collections.

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