Guide to the Thomas and Jane Welsh Carlyle Papers, 1820-1927 and undated

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Collection consists of an assortment of correspondence, fragments, and notes from Thomas and Jane Welsh Carlyle. Correspondents include Carlyle's secretary, Henry Larkin; John Fergusson; Thomas Murray; Basil Montagu; Bryan Waller Procter ("Barry Cornwall"); Henrietta Maria Stanley; Ralph Waldo Emerson; Thomas Erskine; Richard Owen; Frederic Chapman; William McCall; and John Reuben Thomas.

Collection Details

Collection Number
Thomas and Jane Welsh Carlyle papers
1820-1927 and undated
0.5 Linear Feet
David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
Materials in English

Collection Overview

The collection consists primarily of the Correspondence Series, 1820-1927 and undated, between Thomas Carlyle, Jane Welsh Carlyle, and various other correspondents. Correspondents include Carlyle's secretary, Henry Larkin; John Fergusson; Thomas Murray; Basil Montagu; Bryan Waller Procter ("Barry Cornwall"); Thomas Erskine; Richard Owen; Frederic Chapman; William McCall; and John Reuben Thomas. Letters present not only a narrative of their own lives, but also provocative discussion of the ideas and events of their time, including the Peterloo Massacre of 1819, the coronation of Queen Victoria, the repeal of the Corn Laws, the Great Exhibition of 1851, the deaths of Sir Robert Peel and the Duke of Wellington, the Crimean War, and the rise of modern Germany. Also present are vivid references to the works and movements of noteworthy contemporaries such as Robert Browning, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Charles Dickens, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, Ivan Turgenev, and others. Most of the letters are outgoing from the Carlyles; there is also one letter dated 1860 April 25 from Ralph Waldo Emerson to Thomas Carlyle, asking Carlyle to sit for a portrait. There is also an August 1863 letter from Carlyle likely directed to Virginia devine and abolitionist Moncure Conway, who travelled to London in 1863 armed with letters of introduction from Emerson, his mentor. There are several letters from Jane Welsh Carlyle to Henrietta Maria, Lady Stanley of Alderley, discussing day-to-day life with numerous references to her husband, Thomas Carlyle. Also included is a fragment of a letter from Thomas Carlyle to his wife containing reference to Lady Stanley's little boy.

The collection also includes miscellaneous correspondence, such as one letter to Charles Kingsley promising to help Kingsley get his book published; one letter to James Aitkin; one to Sir Richard Owen concerning inviting O. M. Mitchel (an American astronomer) to lecture on the Mississippi at Somerset House; one letter from Walter Savage Landor prior to Carlyle's only visit with Landor; one letter from Carlyle to London publisher [Frederic] Chapman referring to two manuscripts by Mr. Meccall; one letter from Carlyle to Boehm; and one letter from Carlyle to John Reuben Thompson, as well as several pieces to or from unidentified correspondents. Also includes a letter from Carlyle to D. B. Brightwick at Greenwood College regarding teaching virtue by example (includes published transcription).

The Scrapbook Series consists of a volume of clippings and annotations on Thomas Carlyle's life and works compiled by his biographer, David Alec Wilson.

The Writings Series consists of manuscript fragments of Thomas Carlyle's Shooting Niagara: And After? and his History of Frederich II of Prussia.

The Photographs Series contains a photograph showing part of the Carlyles' study and an autographed a cartes-de-visite of Thomas Carlyle.

More Biographical / Historical Info


Collection has been sorted into the following series: Correspondence, Writings, Photographs, and Scrapbook.

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More copyright and citation information

How to Cite

[Identification of item], Thomas and Jane Welsh Carlyle Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.

Contents of the Collection

Correspondence, 1820-1825
Box 1
View 3 items (Duke Digital Repository)
Correspondence, 1826-1832
Box 1
View 6 items (Duke Digital Repository)
Correspondence, 1838-1843
Box 1
View 12 items (Duke Digital Repository)
Correspondence, 1844-1848
Box 1
View 13 items (Duke Digital Repository)
Correspondence, 1849-1851
Box 1
View 7 items (Duke Digital Repository)
Correspondence, 1852-1857
Box 1
View 11 items (Duke Digital Repository)
Correspondence, 1858-1861
Box 1
View 20 items (Duke Digital Repository)
Correspondence, 1862-1865
Box 1
View 20 items (Duke Digital Repository)
Correspondence, 1866-1868
Box 1
View 17 items (Duke Digital Repository)
Correspondence, 1869-1875, 1893, 1922, 1927
Box 1
View 7 items (Duke Digital Repository)
Correspondence, undated
Box 1
View 14 items (Duke Digital Repository)
Correspondance de Frederic II Roi de Prusse (translation) and History of Friedrich II of Prussia Called Frederick the Great (draft), undated

Manuscript fragment (1 item) with excerpts from both titles.

Box 1
Shooting Niagara: And After?, undated

Manuscript fragments (5 items).

Box 1
View 5 items (Duke Digital Repository)
Thomas Carlyle's study, undated

Fireplace and mantle. Over the mantle hangs "an original engraved portrait on India paper of Frederick the Great."

Box 1
Autographed cartes de visite portrait of Thomas Carlyle, 1868

Adhered to a board which also holds a letter from Carlyle to Mr. F. J. Fronivall(?) dated 1850 December 6.

Box 1
Wilson, David Alec. "Cuttings about Carlyle", undated

Bound scrapbook with notes, clippings, annotations, and ephemera collected by Wilson about Carlyle.

Volume 1

Historical Note

Thomas Carlyle (4 December 1795 – 5 February 1881) was a Scottish philosopher, satirical writer, essayist, historian and teacher. His wife, Jane Welsh Carlyle (14 July 1801 – 21 April 1866, née Jane Baillie Welsh in Haddington Scotland) was also a prolific letter-writer.

Related Material

Visit the Carlyle Letters Project website, hosted by Duke University Press:

Click to find related materials at Duke University Libraries.


The Thomas and Jane Welsh Carlyle Papers were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library as gifts and purchases from 1956 through 2016. This collection includes the materials formerly held in the Clyde Ryals Collection of Letters of Thomas Carlyle, as well as the collection formerly called the Jane Welsh Carlyle-Henrietta Stanley Letters.

Processing Information

Processed by RL Staff, September 2016.

Accessions described in this collection guide: Various, 1956-2000s; 2014-0008; 2015-0013; 2015-0066.