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MS Eng 891, MS Eng 893

Percy, Thomas, 1729-1811. Thomas Percy papers, 1759-1785: Guide.

Houghton Library, Harvard Library, Harvard University


Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138 USA

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Location: b, pf
Call No.: MS Eng 891, MS Eng 893
Repository: Houghton Library, Harvard Library, Harvard University
Creator: Percy, Thomas, 1729-1811.
Title: Thomas Percy papers,
Date(s): 1759-1785.
Quantity: 3 linear feet (7 boxes)
Language of materials: Collection materials are in English.
Abstract: Transcripts of English ballads and popular poetry by the English antiquary Thomas Percy and others, along with correspondence and other materials relating to the collecting of ballads.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

Purchased from Sotheby's by Harvard College Library; received: 1884.
Harvard College Library purchased this collection at the Percy sale, Sotheby's, 29 April 1884 (The one exception is folder 259, added subsequently from other sources). Two marked copies of the sale catalogue may be consulted: 25247.20* annotated by the librarian Justin Winsor; and 25247.20.5* annotated by Francis James Child.

Conditions Governing Access:

There are no restrictions on physical access to this material.

Preferred Citation for Publication:

Thomas Percy Papers, 1759-1785 (MS Eng 891, 892). Houghton Library, Harvard University.

Separated Materials

A collection of printed broadsides, some annotated by Percy, is part of the Houghton collections under the call number p EB75 P4128C no.1-321. The Library also has, among other copies, a copy of the Reliques annotated by Percy for a second edition.
The manuscripts contained in this index were formerly shelved as 25247.20.5* and 25241.33*.

Biographical / Historical

Percy was an English antiquary and poet. His compilation of ballads, Reliques of Ancient English Poetry, was published in 1765.


Organized into the following series: Francis James Child first arranged the papers, and his annotations appear throughout the collection. George Lyman Kittredge annotated them later in much greater detail. The folders have been retained because of his notes, and the order of the material has been preserved as he left it.

Scope and Contents

Contains transcripts, written by Percy and others, of English ballads and popular poetry from the 11th to the 18th century. Also includes Percy's correspondence with Thomas Warton concerning ballads that they were collecting, together with copies of ballads, original verse, translations of Spanish and other European ballads, as well as annotated proof sheets, notes, and other materials concerning Reliques of Ancient English Poetry.
The following table of contents lists titles of poems and ballads, identification of the hand where possible in parenthesis, and a brief collational statement. Unidentified copyists and correspondents are listed together as "unknown?" The appended index of correspondents and identifiable hands includes only those authors whose works are present in autograph; Percy, Child, and Kittredge are not included in the index.

Container List

Index of correspondents and identifiable transcribers