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Coventry Patmore collection

Collection MS-1986-062: Coventry Patmore collection


  • Creation: 1818 - 1945
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1818 - 1896

Scope and Contents

The Coventry Patmore Collection contains manuscripts, correspondence, and visual materials connected to the poet's professional career and personal life. The collection contains manuscripts of some of Coventry Patmore's poetry and prose works including "Let Be", " Peace in Life and Art" and " Wind and Wave," as well as a few items by other authors. The collection also includes personal and professional correspondence between Coventry Patmore and various well-known members of 19th Century British and American literary culture. Letters to and from members of Coventry Patmore's family include those with his wife, Emily Augusta; his children, Emily, Tennyson and Francis; and his father, Peter. Finally, the collection contains visual materials, in the form of photographs, drawings, and reproductions of portraits.

The Coventry Patmore Collection is arranged into three series: Manuscripts, Correspondence, and Visual Materials.

Series I. Manuscripts: This series contains manuscripts from Coventry Patmore's poetry and prose career, as well as a few works by other authors. Included is a 1937 variorum edition of Patmore's The Angel in the House by Shane Leslie.

Series II. Correspondence spans Coventry Patmore's literary career. Correspondence with Coventry Patmore includes letters he wrote as well as those received from 19th century literary figures including Matthew Arnold, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Robert Browning, Thomas Carlyle, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorn, John Ruskin and Alfred Tennyson. The majority of the correspondence in this subseries relates to Coventry Patmore's poetry, prose and publication issues. Other correspondence is with members of his family including: his father, Peter Patmore; his sons, Tennyson and Francis Patmore; and his daughter, Emily Patmore.

Series III. Visual Materials: This series contains a drawing of Coventry Patmore's first wife, Emily Augusta Patmore, prepared in 1859 by John Brett. It also contains a photograph of Patmore's second wife, Marianne Caroline Patmore, and a photograph of Coventry Patmore. Both photographs are undated. Two framed reproductions of portraits of Coventry Patmore, one by John Singer Sargent and one by J. Lavey, complete the series.


Restrictions on Access

Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

These materials are made available for use in research, teaching and private study, pursuant to U.S. Copyright Law. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials. Any materials used for academic research or otherwise should be fully credited with the source. The original authors may retain copyright to the materials.

Biographical note

Coventry Patmore was born 1823 July 23, in Woodford, Essex. His father Peter George Patmore encouraged his literary talents and introduced him to leading literary figures. Under his father's tutelage, Coventry Patmore published his first poetry collection, Poems, in 1844. In 1846, He obtained an appointment as assistant librarian in the British Museum. He retained this post until 1866.

Patmore married his first wife, Emily Augusta Andrews, in 1847. Patmore's most renowned poem, The Angel in the House, was published in 1858. While scholars maintain that Patmore's wife was not the basis for Honoria, the heroine of The Angel in the House, Patmore declared that it was Emily "by whom and for whom" he became a poet. Emily died in 1862 at the age of 38, just as Patmore was arranging to publish "The Victories of Love", the fourth part of The Angel in the House. Patmore withdrew from the literary world following his wife's death and eventually traveled to Rome in 1864.

In Rome, Patmore met Marianne Caroline Byles, a Catholic heiress who would become his second wife. Patmore converted to Catholicism in May 1864 and the two were married in 1865. Following his marriage, Patmore published The Unknown Eros and Other Odes (1878) and Amelia (1878). Marianne's fortune allowed Patmore to retire from the British Museum and to concentrate on his poetry.

The second Mrs. Patmore died suddenly 1880 April 12. Following her death and the publication of a complete edition of poetry in 1879, Patmore devoted his remaining career to the study of mystical theology and to work as a prose writer. In 1881, Patmore married Harriet Robson, a longtime family friend.

As a prose writer, Patmore contributed more than a hundred articles to St. James's Gazette, and his major prose works include Principle in Art (1889), Religio Poetae (1893), and The Rod, the Root and the Flower (1895). Throughout his literary career, Patmore emphasized the marriage bond. He described himself as a "psychologist of love" who saw married love as the forerunner of divine love. Patmore died 1896 November 26. He had six children from his first marriage including his eldest daughter, Emily Honoria, and sons Milnes and Tennyson; and a son, Francis Joseph, by his third marriage.


"Coventry Patmore," Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 98: Modern British Essayists, FirstSeries. Robert Beum, Editor. The Gale Group (1990). pp.261-269.


1.75 Linear Feet (5 containers)

Language of Materials



The collection contains manuscripts by British poet Coventry Patmore. It also contains letters by and to Coventry Patmore from major 19th Century British literary figures including Alfred Tennyson, Robert and Elizabeth Browning, Thomas Carlyle and John Ruskin as well as a number of letters from members of Patmore's family including Harriet Patmore, Tennyson Patmore and Peter Patmore. Finally, the collection includes visual materials: a drawing of Emily Augusta Patmore, photographs of Marianne and Coventry Patmore, and reproductions of portraits of Coventry Patmore.


Arranged in four series. I. Manuscripts, II. Correspondence, III. Visual Materials, and IV. Ephemera.

Series I includes two subseries: A. Works by Coventry Patmore and B. Works by Other Authors. Series II also includes two subseries: A. Correspondence to/from Coventry Patmore, and B. Other Correspondence.


The bulk of the materials in the collection were acquired by the University through purchases from book dealers or through gifts from donors, including Seymour Adelman, Wilfred Meynell, Mrs. Edward C. Donnelly, Mrs. Sowerby, Ivor Poole, Mr. Muir, E. Mathews, and the Sisters of the Holy Child Jesus.

Immediate Source of Acquisition note

MS2006-10; accessioned 2006 March 8; purchase.

Immediate Source of Acquisition note

Accessioned before 1986; source unknown.

Related Materials

Boston College collection of the Alice and Wilfrid Meynell family, MS.1986.061, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

Separated Materials

The following items originally were grouped with the Coventry Patmore Collection, but have been transferred to The Seymour Adelman Collection of Thompsoniana (MS2006-58; MS2007-01):

  • Rossetti, Dante Gabriel to Charles Howell (1 ALS), 17 July 1874
  • Rossetti, Dante Gabriel to H. Buxton Forman (1 ALS), 24 February 1871
  • Scott, Sir Walter to John Ballantyne (1 ALS), 3 September 1819
  • Title
    Coventry Patmore collection
    1818-1945 (bulk 1818-1896)
    Matthew Heitzman and David Tennant (2006), updated
    Description rules
    Describing Archives: A Content Standard
    Language of description
    Script of description

    Repository Details

    Part of the John J. Burns Library Repository

    John J. Burns Library
    Boston College
    140 Commonwealth Avenue
    Chestnut Hill MA 02467 United States