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Collection Overview

Linton, W. J. (William James), 1812-1897
Princeton University. Library. Special Collections
W. J. Linton Collection
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
1 box and 0.4 linear feet
Storage Note:
Firestone Library (mss): Box 1


William James Linton was an English-born engraver and political activist. The collection consists of 36 of Linton's letters, related correspondence, and other miscellaneous materials. Three manuscripts of poems, possibly Linton's, a manuscript of a novel by Elizabeth Fitzgerald, and unidentified artwork complete the collection.

Collection Description & Creator Information


Consists chiefly of correspondence (approximately 200 items), in large part by the Anglo-American wood engraver, author, and political reformer W. J. Linton to the art historian and editor Sylvester Rosa Koehler. Included are 108 letters from Linton to Koehler, one with an original drawing, discussing in detail illustrations and engravings for some of Koehler's books, including the never-to-be-completed "History of the Art of Color-printing." Linton specifically writes about engraving portraits from photographs that are being sent to him of authors and poets such as William Cullen Bryant, Charles Anderson Dana, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. He also discusses different engraving techniques and other engravers and publishers, including Scribner's, Harper's, and Appleton. Other correspondents include Leigh Hunt, Charles Samuel Jovett, Jeremiah Wells, and Henry Benjamin Wheatley. In addition, the collection includes some correspondence written by Eliza Lynn Linton.

The collection further includes a 238-page typescript of a novel, In Exile, credited to Elizabeth Fitzgerald; three manuscripts of poems, presumably by Linton: "The Commonwealth" (n.d.), "Freedom's Triumph" (1884), and "Sir Richard Grenville" (1852); and several photographs of Linton at different stages of his life, at his home and his engraving studio, and of his mother and other family members. Also present are photographs of the Italian philosopher and politician Giuseppe Mazzini, including one by Domenico Lama and two by Elliott Fry; two autograph biographies of Linton; some wood engravings, and clippings with wood engravings of and by Linton from The Illustrated London News and The People's Journal.

Collection Creator Biography:

Linton, W. J. (William James), 1812-1897

William James Linton was born on December 7, 1812 in London, England. Educated in Stratford, Linton moved back to London and became a wood engraver. In addition to his artistic pursuits, Linton was also a political activist in favor of free press, free speech, universal suffrage, and women's rights. After encountering political and financial troubles in England, he moved to New York and spent the rest of his life in the United States. Here he found artistic and political acceptance. He worked at the Ladies' School of Design at the Cooper Institute, designed illustrations for a number of prominent American book publishers, and made illustrations for Scribner's Monthly, Century Magazine, and Aldine. Politically, he joined the Universal Republican Alliance. In 1870 he moved to Connecticut where he established his own press and continued to produce engravings for publishers. He passed away in New Haven on December 29, 1897.

Collection History


Purchased from Howard S. Mott.

Archival Appraisal Information:

No appraisal information is available.

Processing Information:

Biography written by Alyxandra Cullen, '09.

Access & Use

Access Restrictions:

Collection is open for research use.

Conditions for Reproduction and Use:

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. No further photoduplication of copies of material in the collection can be made when Princeton University Library does not own the original. Inquiries regarding publishing material from the collection should be directed to RBSC Public Services staff through the Ask Us! form. The library has no information on the status of literary rights in the collection and researchers are responsible for determining any questions of copyright.

Credit this material:

W. J. Linton Collection; Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Permanent URL:
Firestone Library
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