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Collection Overview

Besant, Walter, 1836-1901
Princeton University. Library. Special Collections
Princeton University Library Collection of Sir Walter Besant Correspondence
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
2 boxes
Storage Note:
Firestone Library (mss): Boxes 1; B-001093


Consists primarily of incoming and outgoing letters of English novelist and historian Sir Walter Besant (1836-1901).

Collection Description & Creator Information


This collection consists primarily of the correspondence of English novelist and historian Sir Walter Besant (1836-1901). A sizeable portion includes 100 letters sent by Besant to his publisher, Chatto & Windus (London), from 1881 to 1901. Amongst other topics that are documented, many letters relate to his publications, the Society of Authors, and the Palestine Exploration Fund.

Some photographs, ephemera, and writings relating to Besant are scattered throughout.

Collection Creator Biography:


Sir Walter Besant (1836-1901) was one of the most prolific and widely-read novelists, popular historians, and social critics of the late Victorian era. He was also a philanthropist, antiquary, secretary of the Palestine Exploration Fund, originator of the People's Palace in East London, and a vigorous campaigner for authors' rights. He helped found the Society of Authors in 1884 and edited its journal until his death. Besant was knighted in 1895

Collection History


The collection adheres to a Departmental practice of combining into one collection material of various accessions relating to a particular person, family, or subject.

The collection has been assembled from various purchases and gifts from Seven Gables, David Holmes, Diana J. Rendell Inc., Bart Auerbach, Henry Briston, Farahan and Dupre, and John Watson Ltd, and others. The letter relating to the Palestine Exploration Fund is a gift of Mark Samuels Lesner.

Accessions include: AM 17247, AM 20737, AM 20837, AM 1991-74, AM 1992-100, AM 1992-128, AM 1993-36, AM 1993-52, AM 1993-74, AM 1993-146, AM 1993-157, AM 1995-50, AM 1996-64, AM 1998-04, AM 1998-45, AM 1998-64, AM 1998-82, AM 1999-97, AM 2000-87, and AM 2018-45.

Archival Appraisal Information:

No appraisal information is available.

Processing Information:

Biography written by Jessica Marati, '08.

This collection was reprocessed by Faith Charlton in December 2017. Finding aid updated by Faith Charlton in December 2017.

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:

Princeton University Library Collection of Sir Walter Besant Correspondence; Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Permanent URL:
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