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Roscoe (William) Collection
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Collection Details
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  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content

  • Language of Material: Undetermined
    Contributing Institution: William Andrews Clark Memorial Library
    Title: William Roscoe Collection
    creator: Roscoe, William 1753-1831
    Identifier/Call Number: MS.2008.023
    Physical Description: 2 Linear Feet 2 boxes and 4 bound volumes
    Date (inclusive): 1774-1887, undated
    Abstract: Contains correspondence to and from William Roscoe, his family circle and various friends, booksellers and colleagues as well as commonplace books compiled by his wife Jane Griffies, portrait engravings and ephemera, dating 1774-1887 and undated.
    Physical Location: Clark Library


    Collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    Copyright has not been assigned to the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library, UCLA. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Librarian. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], William Roscoe Collection, 1774-1887, undated, MS.2008.023, William Andrews Clark Memorial Library, University of California, Los Angeles.

    Acquisition Information

    Gift of Professor David H. Weinglass and Marilyn Carbonell, 2008.


    William Roscoe was born in 1753 in Liverpool. Although he trained to become an attorney and worked in that capacity for 20 years, his true passion was literature and the arts, particularly the study of Italy. In 1781, Roscoe married Jane Griffies, to whom he was happily married for over 40 years. Their family of seven sons and three daughters was a close and loving one, something that is well-reflected in the correspondence collected here.
    Beginning when he was around 16, Roscoe had published and circulated some poetry that was well-received by the critics, but it was the Life of Lorenzo published in 1796 that earned him his reputation as a writer and historian. This was followed by a Life of Leo X in 1805, which was not as well-received. Roscoe retired from his career in the law soon after the publication of the Life of Lorenzo and dedicated his time to writing and the arts, as well as farming, abolition and politics. In 1816, a bank in which he was a partner failed and Roscoe was forced to sell his home of Allerton Hall as well as his sizeable collections of books, paintings and manuscripts.
    Though Roscoe continued working as a writer and as an advocate for culture in Liverpool, his family moved often because of financial worries. Jane Griffies Roscoe died in 1824 and Roscoe himself died at 78, in 1831.

    Scope and Content

    The William Roscoe collection, dating 1774-1887 and undated, consists primarily of correspondence between Roscoe, his family circle and various friends, booksellers and professional colleagues. The collection also contains 4 volumes of commonplace books compiled by his wife, Jane Griffies Roscoe, contemporary and modern images of Roscoe and his residences, and related ephemera.
    The majority of the correspondence collected here consists of outgoing letters written by Roscoe to his sons and to colleagues and friends in the worlds of publishing, art and politics, as do incoming letters sent to Roscoe and to others. Some letters are brief notes regarding social engagements, while others contain more substantive discussions of topics ranging from slavery to bookselling and art collecting. Frequent correspondents include sons Robert, Richard, Thomas and Henry as well as booksellers Cadell & Davies and artist Martin Archer Shee.
    The four volumes of commonplace books, dating 1774-1790, compiled by Jane Griffies Roscoe contain autograph contributions by Roscoe, as well as works by him written in Jane's hand. The volumes also contain what appear to be Jane's original compositions in addition to works by poets such as William Collins, Thomas Gray, Phillis Wheatley and Anna Laetitia Barbauld.
    Ephemera and images, dating 1805-1853 and undated, include portrait engravings of Roscoe and of his residence at Allerton Hall, as well as related newspapers and other clippings. A medal issued on his centenary in 1853 by Joseph Mayer, Liverpool arts patron and possible former owner of parts of this collection, is also included.
    The collection is organized into the following series:
    • Series 1. Correspondence, 1796-1833, 1887, undated. 1 box
    • Series 2. Poetical commonplace book, 1774-1790. 4 volumes
    • Series 3. Images and ephemera, 1805-1853, undated. 1 box

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Ephemera -- England -- 19th century
    Letters -- England -- 19th century
    Commonplace books -- England -- 19th century
    Authors, English -- 18th century -- Archives
    Engravings (prints)
    Roscoe, Henry, 1800-1836
    Mayer, Joseph, 1803-1886
    Dunston, Frederick Warburton
    Cadell & Davies
    Weinglass, David H.
    Roscoe, Robert
    Roscoe, Thomas, 1791-1871
    Roscoe, Jane Griffies
    Roscoe, Richard