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MS Hyde 25

Reynolds, Frances, 1729-1807. Frances Reynolds papers: Guide.

Houghton Library, Harvard Library, Harvard University


Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138 USA

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Location: Hyde Case 9
Call No.: MS Hyde 25
Repository: Houghton Library, Harvard Library, Harvard University
Creator: Reynolds, Frances, 1729-1807.
Title: Frances Reynolds papers,
Date(s): 1774-1800 and undated.
Quantity: 1 collection (3 volume (.3 linear ft.)
Language of materials: Collection materials are in English.
Abstract: Correspondence of artist Frances Reynolds with authors Samuel Johnson, Elizabeth Robinson Montagu, Hannah More, and George Steevens; with drafts of her reminiscences of Johnson, and a poem annotated by Johnson.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

*2003JM-58 (part), *2003JM-92, *2003JM-111, *2003JM-122. Bequest of Mary Hyde Eccles, Four Oaks Farm, Somerville, New Jersey; received: 2004.


These papers were passed down through the family of Frances Reynolds's sister Mary Reynolds Palmer (1716-1794), beginning with her son, the Rev. John Nicholas Palmer (1752-1827), then to his son Robert Samuel Palmer. In 1897, they were the property of Robert Samuel Palmer's daughter Lady Emily Anna Colomb (d.1907), of Dromquinna, Kenmare, Ireland. They later passed to her son Rupert Palmer Colomb (1868-1955),and by 1951 to his niece Doreen Ruthven-Smith Ashworth (1895-1988). She had them auctioned by Sotheby's on 1967 Nov. 27. Lots 194, 197, 198, 199, and 201 from this sale were acquired by Mary Hyde at that time. Lot 196 was apparently acquired by Robert F. Metzdorf, who gave a single Montagu-Reynolds letter to Mary Hyde as a Christmas present that year.

Processing Information:

Processed by: Rick Stattler

Conditions Governing Access:

There are no restrictions on physical access to this material.

Preferred Citation for Publication:

Frances Reynolds Papers (MS Hyde 25). Houghton Library, Harvard University.

Related Materials

Twelve letters from Elizabeth Montagu to Frances Reynolds, which first appeared on the market at the 1967 Sotheby's sale, are now at Princeton University.

Separated Materials

One other lot which shared a common provenance with these papers is also part of the Hyde Collection at the Houghton Library. In the Samuel Johnson Letters, MS Hyde 1, item (96), are 13 autograph letters from Samuel Johnson to Reynolds, and 29 transcripts of Johnson letters in Reynolds's hand.

Biographical / Historical

Frances Reynolds (1729-1807) was a portrait artist, the author of An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Taste (1789), and the sister of artist Sir Joshua Reynolds. She was also a friend of Samuel Johnson from ca. 1756 until his death in 1784.


Useful in tracing the provenance of this collection is Sir Robert Edgcumbe's The Parentage and Kinsfolk of Sir Joshua Reynolds P.R.A. (London: Chiswick Press, 1901).


Organized into the following two series:

Scope and Contents

The bulk of the correspondence consists of fifteen letters from author Hannah More to artist Frances Reynolds, which discuss the Johnsonian circle and the larger 18th-century literary world in great detail. Also noteworthy are five letters from Reynolds to Samuel Johnson, mostly social in content.
The manuscript series consists mainly of three drafts of Reynolds's Recollections of Dr. Johnson (never published during her lifetime), and her untitled poem with suggested revisions in Johnson's hand.

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