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Collection Overview

Cowper, William, 1731-1800 and Princeton University. Library. Special Collections
Princeton University. Library. Special Collections
Princeton University Library Collection of William Cowper Materials
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
1634-1877 (mostly 1770-1820)
1 box and 0.2 linear feet
Storage Note:
  • ReCAP (scarcpxm): Box 1


Consists primarily of the correspondence of renowned poet William Cowper as well as the correspondence of family, friends, and associates, much of which relates to Cowper.

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

Consists primarily of the correspondence of Cowper with some other documents, including a manuscript, notes, and memorabilia. Also included is the correspondence of family, friends, and associates, much of which relates to Cowper. Some of the correspondents include John Flaxman, Samuel Rose, Samuel Teedon, William Hayley, John Johnson, Joseph Johnson, John Newton, and Thomas Park.

Collection Creator Biography:

Cowper, William, 1731-1800

William Cowper was an English poet. Born in 1731 in Great Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, Cowper was schooled in Markyate and Winchester and trained for a career in law. However, he found himself ill-suited for the profession and instead was appointed a commissioner in bankruptcy. He suffered from severe mental instability and was institutionalized on several occasions. A true romantic, Cowper wrote much of his poetry in honor of the women in his life. Among his most famous compositions are The Task and The Journey of John Gilpin. Cowper died in 1800.

Joseph Hill was a close friend of Cowper who served as his mentor in matters of business.

Collection History


The collection has resulted from the miscellaneous gifts of numerous donors and purchases over the years.

Gifts of Charles Ryskamp, A.N.L. Munby, and others.

Custodial History

The collection was formed as a result of a departmental practice of combining into one collection manuscript material of various accessions relating to a particular author.


No appraisal information is available.

Processing Information

This collection was processed in 1998. Finding aid written in 1998.

Biography written by Alyxandra Cullen, '09.

Finding aid updated by Faith Charlton in August 2015.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research use.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. To cite or publish quotations that fall within Fair Use, as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission is required. For instances beyond Fair Use, it is the responsibility of the researcher to determine whether any permissions related to copyright, privacy, publicity, or any other rights are necessary for their intended use of the Library's materials, and to obtain all required permissions from any existing rights holders, if they have not already done so. Princeton University Library's Special Collections does not charge any permission or use fees for the publication of images of materials from our collections, nor does it require researchers to obtain its permission for said use. The department does request that its collections be properly cited and images credited. More detailed information can be found on the Copyright, Credit and Citations Guidelines page on our website. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us through the Ask Us! form.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

For preservation reasons, original analog and digital media may not be read or played back in the reading room. Users may visually inspect physical media but may not remove it from its enclosure. All analog audiovisual media must be digitized to preservation-quality standards prior to use. Audiovisual digitization requests are processed by an approved third-party vendor. Please note, the transfer time required can be as little as several weeks to as long as several months and there may be financial costs associated with the process. Requests should be directed through the Ask Us Form.

Credit this material:

Princeton University Library Collection of William Cowper Materials; Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Permanent URL:
Firestone Library
One Washington Road
Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
(609) 258-3184
Storage Note:
  • ReCAP (scarcpxm): Box 1

Find More


The following sources were consulted during preparation of biographical note: The Cowper and Newton Museum.

Subject Terms:
Epic poetry, Greek -- Translations.
Poets, English -- 18th century.
Genre Terms:
Contracts -- England --17th century.
Legal instruments -- England --17th century.