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COLLECTION Identifier: MS Eng 1502

Percival Merritt collection of Horace Walpole manuscripts


Manuscripts collected by Edward Percival Merritt, by and about the English author Horace Walpole and his Strawberry Hill Press.


  • Creation: 1751-1920

Language of Materials

Collection materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on physical access to this material.


1 linear feet (7 volumes)

Includes materials by and about Horace Walpole and his Strawberry Hill Press, including: drawings from his Anecdotes of painting in England, a genealogy of the Walpole family, receipts, travel diary for journeys to Paris, Strawberry Hill visitor's book, transcript copy of his 1796 will, notes on printing at the Press, and other materials.

Biographical / Historical

Horatio Horace Walpole, fourth Earl of Orford (1717-1797), was an English writer, politician, connoisseur, and collector. He was the youngest son of Sir Robert Walpole, British prime minister and leading Whig politician, and Catherine Shorter Walpole. He attended first Eton, and then King's College, Cambridge, and became good friends with the poet Thomas Gray. Between 1739 and 1741 Gray and Walpole embarked on a grand tour of Europe. Walpole was elected to Parliament in 1741 and served until 1767. In 1747 he acquired a home known as Strawberry Hill, located in Twickenham, where over the years he embellished the structure with cloisters, turrets, and battlements, and filled the interior with pictures, curios, and a valuable library. He established a private press on the grounds known as the Strawberry Hill Press. In 1791 he succeeded to the Earldom of Orford, and he died in 1797. Walpole was famous in his day for initiating the vogue for gothic romances with his medieval horror tale The Castle of Otranto. Today he is best known as one of the most prolific letter writers in the English language.


Arranged in former call-number order.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Elisabeth Merritt in memory of her husband, Percival Merritt, who formed the Walpole Collection; received: 1934 Apr. 10.

Recataloged from: WM 2.05, WM 2.5, WM 2.10, WM 2.10.2, WM 2.15, WM 2.50, WM 21.13.9.

Processing Information

Processed by: Bonnie B. Salt

Merritt, Percival, 1860-1932, collector. Percival Merritt collection of Horace Walpole manuscripts, 1751-1920: 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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