MS Hyde 60
Ireland, W. H. (William Henry), 1777-1835. W. H. Ireland papers, 1593-1824: Guide.
Houghton Library, Harvard Library, Harvard University
Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138 USA
© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Location: Hyde Case 9
Call No.: MS Hyde 60
Repository: Houghton Library, Harvard Library, Harvard University
Creator: Ireland, W. H. (William Henry), 1777-1835
Title: W. H. Ireland papers,
Date(s): (bulk) 1794-1813.
Quantity: 1 collection (1.3 linear feet (7 volumes)
Language of materials: Collection materials are in English.
Abstract: Seven scrapbooks of Shakespeare forgeries created by William Henry Ireland, most of
them extra-illustrated with original Ireland family manuscripts and artwork.
2003JM-150, 2003JM-151, 2003JM-152, 2003JM-153, 2003JM-154, 2003JM-171, 2003JM-172. Bequest of Mary Hyde Eccles, Four Oaks Farm, Somerville, New Jersey; received: 2004.
Item (3) was formerly in the collection of Lewis Pocock. Items (5), (6), and (7) were purchased by Donald and Mary Hyde from Abraham Simon Wolf Rosenbach in 1952.
Processed by: Rick Stattler
There are no restrictions on physical access to this material. Collection is open
W. H. Ireland Papers, 1593-1824 (MS Hyde 60). Houghton Library, Harvard University.
Several other institutions hold William Henry Ireland manuscripts, including the University
of Iowa, Indiana University, and Princeton University.
In 1794, at age 19, William Henry Ireland "discovered" a cache of William Shakespeare
manuscripts, which he presented in a series of gifts to his father, engraver Samuel
Ireland. The manuscripts included legal documents, correspondence, and two previously
unknown plays, Vortigern and Henry II. By 1795, many of the manuscripts were on display at the Ireland home, and were the
talk of London. In December, an edition was published under the title of Miscellaneous Papers and Legal Instruments under the Hand and Seal of William Shakespeare.
Vortigern was produced at the Drury Lane Theatre in April 1796, but by this point, the manuscripts
were increasingly regarded as forgeries, and the production was hooted off the stage
on opening night. William Henry Ireland, exposed as the actual author of the Shakespeare
manuscripts, embarked on a long literary career. In 1805, he published The Confessions of William-Henry Ireland. He also sold several extra-illustrated manuscript copies of his own forgeries.
The bulk of these papers consist of Ireland's Shakespeare forgeries, including complete
copies of Vortigern and King Lear. The collection also includes correspondence, literary manuscripts, and original artwork
credited to members of William Henry Ireland's immediate family: his father Samuel
Ireland (d. 1800); his mother Anna Maria de Burgh Coppinger, a.k.a. Mrs. Freeman (d.
1802); and his sisters Anna Maria Ireland and Jane Ireland. Of particular interest
are two original paintings credited to Richard Westall, item (3), pages 6 and 20;
two miniature portraits on ivory credited to Jane Ireland, item (3), pages 18 and
19; and a watercolor credited to Paul Sandby, item (4), page 156.
While cataloging is not always an exact science, it should be regarded as particularly
imprecise with the Ireland papers. Attributions of artwork are generally provided
as supplied by Ireland, and letters may not be authentic. The observations of Ireland
scholar Jack Lynch have proven helpful.
- (4). Ireland, W. H. (William Henry), 1777-1835. Miscellaneous papers and legal instruments under the hand and seal of William Shakspeare : extra-illustrated printed book, London, 1792-1817. 1 volume (172 pages).Hyde Case 9, folio
Manuscript cover page reads: W.H. Ireland's Shaksperian fabrications. The extra-illustration, decorative borders, and captions were apparently done by William
H. Ireland not before 1817. Many of the insertions are captioned with references to
appropriate passages in The Confessions of William-Henry Ireland. Includes manuscript Shakespeare forgeries in Ireland's hand; tracings from authentic
Shakespeare-related documents inserted for comparison; and the following other material:
- Page 38. The supposed witty conundrum [portrait of Shakespeare] Ink on paper drawing [by William Henry Ireland?]
- Page 40a. Thomas Warton. Engraving, by Stanier.
- Page 119a. Richard Brinsley Sheridan. Engraving,uncredited.
- Page 121. Printed handbill defending Vortigern, [1796 Mar.]
- Page 122a. Tragedy. Engraving, uncredited.
- Page 124. Sarah Siddons. Engraving, by [William] Ridley, from [Thomas?] Beach.
- Page 127a. Henry II, King of England. Engraving, by [James?] Heath.
- Page 131. Richard II, King of England. Engraving, by [James?] Heath.
- Page 133. Caxton, the Printer. Ink on paper drawing of William Caxton [by William Henry Ireland?]
- Page 138. Triste amour, for the voice and Spanish guitar. Printed title page of unrelated work by William Henry Ireland.
- Page 140. [Sir Philip Sidney?] Engraving, uncredited.
- Page 144. [Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales (1594-1612)] Engraving, uncredited.
- Page 152. Quartetto, 2nd act, page 30. Manuscript dialogue from a play, credited to Samuel Ireland.
- Page 153. Bookplate of Samuel Ireland. Printed.
- Page 154. Landscape. Watercolor on paper, purportedly of Wales and credited to Samuel Ireland.
- Page 155. Landscape. Watercolor on paper, credited to Samuel Ireland.
- Page 156. Landscape. Watercolor on paper, purportedly of Windsor Forest [Berkshire, England] credited to Paul Sandby.
- Page 157. Landscape. Ink wash on paper, credited to Peter Pindar.
- Page 158. Escap'd the battles rage, the hostile foe. Autograph manuscript, credited to Mrs. Freeman, mother of William Henry Ireland.
- Page 159. And have you not heard of a fine dainty princess. Autograph manuscript, credited to Mrs. Freeman, mother of William Henry Ireland.
- Page 160. To Mrs. Crewe. Manuscript transcript of a poem by Charles James Fox, transcribed by Mrs. Freeman, mother of William Henry Ireland.
- Page 162. A mock elegy, in irregular verses, on the supposed demise of P**** P*****, Esq., M.D.
(London: Hookham & Carpenter, 1792). Printed poem. Ireland's annotation states that it is the work of his mother, Mrs. Freeman, concerning Peter Pindar. 50 pages.
- Page 163. [Anna Maria Ireland and Jane Linley Nash] Engraving, credited to Samuel Ireland.
- Page 164. Riddle. Autograph manuscript, credited to Anna Maria Ireland. On verso, Written at the request of Mr. Williams on Twelfday to be read at the introduction
of The Cake, autograph manuscript poem.
- Page 165. Portrait of unidentified man. Pencil on paper, credited to Anna Maria Ireland.
- Page 166. Portrait of unidentified woman. Pencil on paper, initialed by Anna Maria Ireland.
- Page 167. Edwin & Eleonora. Manuscript transcript of a passage from Edward and Eleonora by James Thomson. Transcription credited to Jane Ireland, but inscribed "Mrs. Freeman."
- Page 168. Landscape. Watercolor on paper, credited to Anna Maria Ireland.
- Page 168. Landscape. Ink wash on paper, credited to Jane Ireland.
- Page 169. Copy of a sketch of Katharine Willoughby Brandon, Duchess of Suffolk by Hans Holbein (1497-1543). Color pencil drawing on paper, credited to Jane Ireland.
- Page 170. An anthem on the lamented death of her royal highness, the Princess Charlotte. Printed poem, Paris [1817?] by William Henry Ireland.
- Page 171. Mr. Foster Powell, drawn from life. Engraving of Foster Powell, uncredited.
- (5). Ireland, W. H. (William Henry), 1777-1835. Shakespeare's manuscripts, Vol. 1: Kynge Leare &c : autograph manuscript, [1794?] 1 volume (133 pages).Hyde Case 9, folio
Pages mounted into a scrapbook. Ireland's forgery of the King Lear manuscript is bound with the following.
- Before first page. Notorious characters, No. 1. Stipple engraving of Samuel Ireland [by James Gillray] published by Hannah Humphrey, London, 1797.
- Before first page. Index of watermarks in Kynge Leare. Manuscript in unknown hand, [18--]
- Before first page. Gulielmus Shakspear aetat 36. Painting on vellum, with forged inscription by Shakespeare.
- Page 108. William Shakespeare. Ink drawing on paper, with two forged Shakespeare signatures.
- Pages 109 to 118. Various forged Shakespeare documents.
- Pages 120, 122. Forged coats of arms with inscriptions, on vellum.
- Page 132. Water marks in Lear. Manuscript list in unknown hand, [18--]
- Page 133. Errata Lear. Manuscript list in unknown hand, [18--]
- (6). Ireland, W. H. (William Henry), 1777-1835. Shakespeare's manuscripts, Vol. 2: Hamblette &c : autograph manuscript, [1794?] 1 volume (122 pages).Hyde Case 9, folio
The first seven pages are a forgery of the Hamlet manuscript. The remainder of the scrapbook contains a variety of other forged Shakespeare
documents. Page 45 has a page removed from an unidentified printed volume involving
Queen Elizabeth. One item appears to have been removed from page 23, and several other
pages of the volume are blank.
- (7). Ireland, W. H. (William Henry), 1777-1835. Shakespeare's manuscripts, Vol. 3: Vortigerne &c : autograph manuscript, [1794?] 1 volume (119 pages).Hyde Case 9, folio
The first 92 pages of this scrapbook are Ireland's composition, Kynge Vortigerne, in his Shakespearean hand. On the remaining pages are mostly a variety of other forged
Shakespeare-related documents. The document on page 93 is inscribed with several drawings,
including a coat of arms. Explanatory notes in an unidentified nineteenth-century
hand are on pages 117 and 119. Several pages are blank.