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COLLECTION Identifier: MS Hyde 7

Elizabeth Robinson Montagu papers


Letters to and from author and literary hostess Elizabeth Robinson Montagu, a partial draft of her An Essay on the Writings and Genius of Shakespear, and her transcripts of poems by a variety of authors paying tribute to the essay.


  • 1741-1773

Language of Materials

Collection materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on physical access to this material.


.5 linear feet (1 box)
Series I, Correspondence, includes fifteen autograph letters by Montagu, and ten letters received by her. Prominent correspondents include Elizabeth Carter, David Garrick, George Lyttelton, and Edward Young. Several of the letters discuss her An Essay on the Writings and Genius of Shakespear.

Series II consists of a partial draft of Montagu's An Essay on the Writings and Genius of Shakespear, and nine poems written by a variety of authors which honor the essay. Most are transcripts in Montagu's hand.

Biographical / Historical

Elizabeth Robinson Montagu, an author and literary hostess, was a central figure in London's Bluestocking circle, and a friend of Samuel Johnson. Her best-known work was the anonymously published An Essay on the Writings and Genius of Shakespear (1769).


Organized into the following series:
  1. I. Correspondence
  2. II. Manuscripts
The correspondence is arranged alphabetically by correspondent.

Physical Location

b (shelved with bMS Hyde 6)

Custodial History

Most of the letters in Series I had previously been bound into an extra-illustrated edition of The Life of Samuel Johnson LL.D. which Donald and Mary Hyde purchased at a Sotheby's auction in 1950, and which they disbound in 1953. The contents of Series II were all sold as a group from John Fleming to Mary Hyde in 1971, along with four letters in Series I: Montagu to Carter, [1769 Sept. 29]; Gregory to Montagu, 1768 Oct. 31 and 1769 Mar. 18; and Montagu to Lyttelton, 1769 Sept. 22. Several other letters were acquired by the Hydes from miscellaneous sources.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

2003JM-58 (part). Bequest of Mary Hyde Eccles, Four Oaks Farm, Somerville, New Jersey; received: 2004.

Related Materials

The bulk of Montagu's correspondence is at the Huntington Library. The Houghton Library also has other substantial Montagu holdings, including the Montagu Family Papers, MS Eng 1365.

Several related items are also part of the Hyde Collection, including two letters from Samuel Johnson to Montagu in MS Hyde 1, item (77); one letter from Montagu to Frances Reynolds in MS Hyde 25, item (2); one letter from Montagu to Hester Lynch Piozzi in MS Hyde 35, item (76); and one letter from Edmund Burke to Montagu in MS Hyde 67, item (8). One item from the 1971 Fleming purchase, a transcript of David Garrick's Upon Dr. Cadogan's Blaspheming Shakespear with no apparent Montagu connection, was removed to MS Hyde 7, item (23).

Processing Information

Processed by: Rick Stattler
Link to catalog
Montagu, Elizabeth Robinson, 1720-1800. Elizabeth Robinson Montagu papers, 1741-1773: Guide.
Houghton Library, Harvard College Library

Repository Details

Part of the Houghton Library Repository

Houghton Library is Harvard College's principal repository for rare books and manuscripts, literary and performing arts archives, and more. The library's holdings of primary source material are managed by an expert staff and shared with scholars, students and the public in the reading room.

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