Contents and Arrangement

Autograph letter signed, to J.A. Godley (Gladstone's principal private secretary, 1880-82), acknowledging receipt of Lord Aberdeen's kind invitation, and promising to send a telegram 'as soon as I can speak positively'. Adam St, Adelphi, 1881 July 30

1 box

Collection Overview

Collection Description & Creator Information


This collection of papers—mostly autograph letters with a few covers preserved as autographs—was made by Edward Bickersteth Ottley and his wife Maude. It is clear that almost all the letters were not solicited or bought, but given by friends and relations. E. B. Ottley (1853-1910) was the son of Laurence Ottley (1808-61), rector of Richmond and later Rural Dean of Ripon, and his wife Elizabeth (née Bickersteth).

These two Gladstonian connections account for a good proportion of the letters described here. Many of them are addressed to Gladstone himself; some are to Mrs. Gladstone; quite a few are addressed to their daughter Mary (later Mrs. Drew). Others are addressed to Hamilton, either in his official capacity in Gladstone's office or as a private citizen—as DNB records, and these letters prove, music was his principal recreation. A few are addressed to (or refer to) J. A. Godley, who was Gladstone's principal secretary. It seems likely that the letters were begged from Hamilton by the Ottleys at around the time of their marriage, which occurred about half way through Gladstone's second government – most of the letters from this source can be dated to 1880-82.

Other family connections are evident here: some of the letters are addressed to Archdeacon Edward Bickersteth (1814-92), after whom Ottley was presumably named; others to Hamilton's father W. K. Hamilton as Bishop of Salisbury. Some are not so easy to account for, although friendship through common interests might well do so: some letters are addressed to the musicologist Sir George Grove (1820-1900), some to the family of Charles Frederic Moberly Bell (1847-1911), manager of The Times. A particularly notable letter from George Meredith is addressed to James Cotter Morison, and some fine letters from notable contemporaries such as Florence Nightingale are addressed to Henry Fawcett (politician) or his wife Millicent (the women's suffrage campaigner)

The following catalogue lists more than 180 letters, some from minor figures such as music teachers or lesser MPs in Gladstone's second government, others from major political and literary figures—of particular note are letters from Benjamin Disraeli (almost his last known letter, and annotated by his old rival Gladstone), George Meredith (a splendid letter to his close friend Cotter Morison: most of this correspondence is thought lost), Robert Browning, Lewis Carroll, Mark Twain, James Russell Lowell, Frederic Leighton (inviting Gladstone to join the Prince of Wales in viewing his Arab Hall), George Macdonald, J. E. Millais, Florence Nightingale, and Anthony Trollope. Of especial interest, perhaps, is a letter from Queen Victoria to her least favorite Prime Minister, Gladstone himself, and (as a pendant) a slip of paper inscribed by both, presumably employed to mark papers sent back and forth between the Queen and Downing Street.

The catalogue includes all the letters whose authors I have been able to trace and which seemed worthwhile describing: a very few were not legible, and there is a small number of cut signatures. I have identified the writers with their dates and titles, and with few exceptions have listed them according to their own style (for instance, the Earl of Derby is under D; the Marquess of Hartington, later the Duke of Devonshire, is under H); their occupation or notable achievement follows, in italics. Most of the letters are one or two pages; in a few instances I have noted longer letters. All addresses are in London unless otherwise noted, and the dates have been transcribed or estimated where they could reasonably be guessed at.

Collection History

Archival Appraisal Information:

No appraisal information is available.

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:

Autograph letter signed, to J.A. Godley (Gladstone's principal private secretary, 1880-82), acknowledging receipt of Lord Aberdeen's kind invitation, and promising to send a telegram 'as soon as I can speak positively'. Adam St, Adelphi; Edward and Maude Ottley Collection of W. E. Gladstone Correspondence, C0916, Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

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