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The Archive of the Royal Society of Literature

Reference Code: GBR/0012/MS RSL

Scope and Contents

The archive includes documents relating to the constitution and membership of the Society, including registers of Fellows and Members; the Society's publications, including early prospectuses and circulars, reports and proceedings, and occasional publications; the Council and Committees, including the Colquhoun Club and the Academic Committee; lectures, meetings and prizes administered by the Society, including the texts of several of the lectures given during the nineteenth century; and the Society's finances, legal affairs, property, library and archives. There are also photographs and photograph albums, and a significant quantity of secretarial correspondence on a wide range of subjects, including a series of 'Fellow's Files', c.1875-1998, holding admission forms and administrative correspondence of writers whose Fellowships terminated (by resignation or death) before 1999. The secretarial correspondence includes files with the following titles: Academic Committee - File 1 1911-1925; Academic Committee - File 2 1926-1965; Admission of Fellows - Invited/accepted, applied/rejected, invited/declined/failed to reply; Admission of Members / Members' enquiries; Anglo Foreign Societies - Box 1 Anglo-Spanish/Portuguese/Danish/Roumanian/Belgian relations; Anglo Foreign Societies - Box 2 Anglo-Italian/German/French/Swedish/Norwegian; Anglo Foreign Societies - Box 3 Anglo-American & Anglo-Canadian relations; Arthur Hunt and Hunt; Arthur Hunt and Hunt/Vivash Hunt; Arts Council; BBC; Benson Medal; Books at Knebworth; Boydell & Brewer Ltd; British Academy; British Council, Joseph Conrad Prize 1987; Cannon Woodthorpe; Cecil Day Lewis - suggested memorial in Poet's Corner; Centenary Banquet; Charity Commission; Civic & Moral Education League; College Of Preceptors; Colquhoun Club - File 1; Colquhoun Club - File 2; Companion of Literature (CLit) Nominations 1977-1994 (incomplete); Correspondence 1956-1983 RSL & actors/actresses re Poetry readings; Correspondence with David Dear 1960-1979; Correspondence with Lowenthal/ Mr N. Mackie (solicitor); Coutts - Defunct bank accounts; Coutts - General Correspondence; C.U.P. (Cambridge University Press); Deaths, obituaries; Dr Charles Forshaw; Dr Richards's Trust; Early Papers Given at the RSL (excluding Coleridge); Edward Thomas Centenary; Eminent People; Entente Committee; Essays by Divers Hands; Foreign Affairs Committee, Entente Committee, Education Section; Heinemann Trust - legal documents; Henry Fielding And His Works By Emanuel Green; History RSL; Honours; House move 1915; Hyde Park Gardens; Inland Revenue (old); Innovation in Contemporary Literature; Insurance - Hanover Square; Investments; J. Edward Morgan & Edward VI; John Patten, Secretary of State for Education; Joseph Bard Memorial Lecture; Jubilee Poetry Reading, May 19 1977; Krauss Reprint Corporation; Learned Oddments 1; Learned Oddments 2; Lectures - 1878/1994; Lectures - various 1988-89; Legacy from Margaret Penn to RSL; Letters of no special interest 1823-1929; Letters of no special interest 1930-1938; Letters of no special interest 1939-1998; Letters to and from Wagstaff; Library; Location Register of English Literary Manuscripts & Letters; Lowenthal Correspondence; Mansfield House, 63 New Cavendish Street, London W1; Marie Stopes - File 1, Norbury Park, 16 Richmond Road, Plaque, Phillips Son & Neale; Marie Stopes - File 2, Royalties; Nobel Prize for Literature; P.E.N. (World Association of Writers); Poetry reading - Queen - 9 Dec 1975, 150th Anniversary; Poetry Society; Presentation to Robert Bridges; Press Cuttings; Press Cuttings (CLit awards); Press Cuttings 1955-1963; Privy Council; Public Lending Right; Rates; Registrar Of Friendly Societies; Responses to Chairman's letter re Society's activities 1990; Rhind-Tutt; Rosedale; Royal Literary Fund; Royal Overseas League; Royal papers 1829-1990; RSL History; Russian (inc. E. European) & oriental relations; Sidney Lee; Simplified Spelling Society; Societies; Sotheby's; The Society of Authors; Transactions Index; Vivash Hunt (formerly Arthur Hunt and Hunt); W. S. Maney - Printers; W. Tollemache; William Blake Society; Winifred Holtby Prize & Heinemann Award. The record-keeping practices of the Society have not been consistent over its history and the archive is especially incomplete for much of the nineteenth century. Certain documents were not included in the sale of papers to the University Library, and enquiries regarding these should be made directly to the Society: Royal charters (foundation charter of 1825 and supplemental charter of 1960); minutes of the general meetings, 1823-1881; Council minutes, 1820-1975; and minutes of public meetings, 1823-1923.


  • 1822-1998


Conditions Governing Access

Unless restrictions apply, the collection is open for consultation by researchers using the Manuscripts Reading Room at Cambridge University Library. For further details on conditions governing access please contact Information about opening hours and obtaining a Cambridge University Library reader's ticket is available from the Library's website (


1 collection (paper and photograph)

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchased, 1999.
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Cambridge University Library Repository

Cambridge University Library
West Road
Cambridge CB3 9DR United Kingdom

The UK Archival Thesaurus has been integrated with our catalogue, thanks to Kings College London and the AIM25 project for their support with this.