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COLLECTION Identifier: MS Hyde 77

Letters of Samuel Johnson, LL.D., collected and edited by George Birkbeck Hill, extra-illustrated


Printed books with hundreds of inserted manuscripts and prints relating to the text, compiled and bound by collector Robert Borthwick Adam.


  • 1413-1900
  • Majority of material found within 1775-1839

Language of Materials

Collection materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on physical access to this material.


2.5 linear feet (10 volumes)

The set includes prints and manuscripts for many of the people and places mentioned in Hill's Letters of Samuel Johnson, LL.D, including individuals mentioned only in footnotes or as historical figures, who may have only a tangential relation to Samuel Johnson. This set contains a much higher proportion of manuscript material than the other extra-illustrated sets compiled by the Adams.

The set includes letters by Joseph Addison; Sir Joseph Banks; George Gordon Byron, Baron Byron; Edmund Burke; Thomas Carlyle; Philip Dormer Stanhope, Earl of Chesterfield; Samuel Taylor Coleridge; James Cook; William Cowper; Oliver Cromwell; Charles Darwin; Charles Dickens; John Dryden; Elizabeth I, Queen of England; Ralph Waldo Emerson; Charles James Fox; Benjamin Franklin; David Garrick; Edward Gibbon; William Hogarth; David Hume; Thomas Babington Macaulay, Baron Macaulay; Edmond Malone; Elizabeth Robinson Montagu; Hannah More; Horatio Nelson, Viscount Nelson; Sir Isaac Newton; Samuel Pepys; Thomas Percy; Hester Lynch Piozzi; William Pitt; Alexander Pope; Sir Joshua Reynolds; Samuel Richardson; Sir Walter Scott; Anna Seward; Jonathan Swift; William Makepeace Thackeray; Voltaire; Horace Walpole; George Washington; Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington; John Wesley; and many others.


The Adams acquired prints and manuscripts to illustrate places and individuals mentioned in the text of Hill's book. The names are underlined in red ink in Hill's text, and the corresponding items are mounted on facing pages (preceding odd-numbered pages and following even-numbered pages). The inventory is arranged as items appear in the volumes.

The first digit of each item number refers to the volume as bound by Adam, and the second digit refers to the page number in the published text. The third digit, where necessary, refers to the sheet number of the insertion in cases where more than one item is inserted for a page. Example: (2. 123. 3) indicates that the item is in Vol. 2 of Adam's 10-volume set. Within that volume, it appears facing page 123, and starts on the third inserted sheet facing that page. It follows immediately after (2. 123. 1) because that item is mounted on two sheets.

Hill's printed index, appearing in volume 10, pages 443 to 476, is annotated by Adam in pencil. Entries marked with the symbol ^ have been illustrated with an autograph manuscript; the page where the manuscript appears is underlined. A "P" indictates that the entry is ilustrated by a print. The ^ and P symbols have been combined when both manuscripts and prints are available.

Appearing after Hill's index, volume 10, pages 477-521, is a printed master index of inserted material. This was apparently compiled by Adam, and printed using a similar typeface and paper size as Hill's book. The index has separate sections for portraits; autographs and manuscripts; views; and miscellaneous illustrations.

Physical Location



This set was compiled by collector Robert Borthwick Adam (1833-1904) of Buffalo, N.Y., in the years following the book's publication in 1892. It was inherited in 1904 by his nephew and adopted son R.B. (Robert Borthwick) Adam (1863-1940), who may have expanded it into its present form, and commissioned the present bindings from the Club Bindery. Bookplates show that in 1910, R.B. Adam presented the set to his wife Lena Stevens Adam (d. 1940). The set was purchased from the Adam estate by Donald Frizell Hyde and Mary Hyde in 1948.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

2003JM-77. Bequest of Mary Hyde Eccles, Four Oaks Farm, Somerville, New Jersey; received: 2004.

Existence and Location of Copies

Available on microfilm.

Separated Materials

Between 1948 and 2003, the Hydes removed many items from these volumes for exhibition, conservation, or reproduction. When possible, these removals have been listed as "REMOVED" after their appropriate page number, with a citation showing their present location. Almost all of the known removals are presently at the Houghton Library. Eight manuscript items were donated to the Houghton Library in 1979 as part of the Mary Hyde Eccles Autograph Collection, MS Eng 1343. Many other items were distributed through the unbound portions of the Hyde manuscript collections, which were bequeathed to the Houghton Library in 2003 along with these volumes. Many manuscript Samuel Johnson letters were removed by the Hydes, and can now be found in the Samuel Johnson Letters, MS Hyde 1. Only one removal has been noted without a tracking reference, item (4. 241. 5), print of Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington. This item was presumably removed before 2003, as it does not appear in the Levinson spreadsheet.


  • Adam, R.B. Catalogue of the Johnsonian Collection of R.B. Adam (Buffalo, N.Y.: privately printed, 1921).
  • Eccles, Mary Hyde. A Miscellany of her Essays and Addresses (New York: Grolier Club, 2002).
  • Redford, Bruce, ed., The Letters of Samuel Johnson (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1992). Cited as "Hyde Edition."

Processing Information

Processed by: Rick Stattler and Marcia Levinson

A full inventory spreadsheet was compiled by Marcia Levinson while the set was property of Mary Hyde Eccles. This spreadsheet was expanded and developed into the present guide in 2005.

Johnson, Samuel, 1709-1784. Letters of Samuel Johnson, LL.D., collected and edited by George Birkbeck Hill, extra-illustrated, 1413-1900: 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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