University of Texas, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center

Sir Walter Besant:

An Inventory of His Collection at the Harry Ransom Center

Creator: Besant, Walter, Sir, 1836-1901
Title: Sir Walter Besant Collection
Dates: 1754-1912, undated
Abstract: Includes chiefly manuscripts of literary works and letters written by the English novelist and historian Sir Walter Besant. One essay concerns publisher Robert Dodsley (1703-1764) and includes two original Dodsley documents. Among Besant's correspondents are William Morris Colles, William Hepworth Dixon, George Henslow, Rudyard Kipling, Charlotte Mary Yonge, and others. Some letters written by Besant were on behalf of The Palestine Exploration Fund, The Society of Authors, or The Survey of London.
Call Number: Manuscript Collection MS-0364
Extent: 3 boxes (1.26 linear feet)
Language: English
Repository: The University of Texas at Austin, Harry Ransom Center



Open for research

Administrative Information

Processed by:

Joan Sibley and Sara Saastamoinen, 2012


This finding aid replicates and replaces information previously available only in a card catalog. Please see the explanatory note at the end of this finding aid for information regarding the arrangement of the manuscripts as well as the abbreviations commonly used in descriptions.

Container List


The doubts of dives:
1.1-2 Signed handwritten manuscript, 172 pages, undated. Titled Arrowsmith; Originally published as Arrowsmith Christmas annual for 1889.
1.3 Typescript with handwritten revisions, 321 pages; handwritten manuscript inserts, 11 pages; handwritten title page, 1 page; undated. Some later chapters titled Arrowsmith. Not described in card catalog (purchase, R4228, 1968).
1.4 Preface, signed handwritten manuscript with revisions, 2 pages, June 1890. Not described in card catalog (purchase, R4228, 1968).
1.5 The five years' tryst, initialed handwritten manuscript with revisions, 119 pages, undated.
2.1 In three weeks, signed handwritten manuscript with many revisions, 16 pages, undated.
2.2-6 The lady of Lynn, handwritten manuscript with corrections, approximately 514 pages, circa 1901.
2.7 My sister—Oh! My sister, signed handwritten manuscript with emendations, 47 pages, undated. Not described in card catalog (purchase, R11849, 1989).
2.8-3.1 No other way / titled The way out, signed handwritten manuscript, approximately 260 pages, undated. Published 1902. Not described in card catalog (purchase, R11849, 1989).
3.2 No other way, proof copy with handwritten corrections and one handwritten manuscript page (number 76) tipped in, 394 pages bound, 1902.
3.3 An old world of letters, handwritten manuscript, 22 pages, undated. Published in The author, 2 March 1896. Included with this: ALS from Jelinger Symons to Nourse, December 1774; ADS / agreement between Archibald Campbell and Robert Dodsley, 16 March 1754. From the Hanley Collection.
3.4 Quarantine island, signed handwritten manuscript with emendations, 16 pages, undated. Not described in card catalog (purchase, R11849, 1989).
3.5 The Rynard Gold Reef Company Limited, signed handwritten manuscript with emendations, 6 pages, undated. A short story arranged in five acts. Published as The Solid Gold Reef Company Limited, 1895? Not described in card catalog (purchase, R11849, 1989).
3.6 Six plays: introduction, initialed handwritten manuscript with emendations, 2 pages, undated. Not described in card catalog (purchase, R11849, 1989).
3.7 Three suitors and another, handwritten manuscript with revisions, 17 pages, undated.
3.8 Verbena camellia stephanotis, handwritten manuscript with emendations, 20 pages, undated (published 1892). Not described in card catalog (purchase, R11849, 1989).
3.9 The wife's confession, signed handwritten manuscript with emendations, 17 pages, undated (published 1896). Play co-written with Walter Herries Pollock, some additions presumably in Pollock's hand. Not described in card catalog (purchase, R11849, 1989).


3.10 ALS to unidentified recipient, 12 July 1888.
ALS to unidentified recipient, 19 July 1894.
ALS to unidentified recipient Celia, 12 October 1895.
7 ALS to unidentified recipients, 1883-1900, undated. Recipient names illegible.
12 ALS to unidentified recipients, 1875-1901.
3 ALS to unidentified recipients Dear Madam, 1888-1895.
TLS to Barnett, 3 February 1898.
ALS to Barrett, 19 December 1886.
ALS to Bell, 31 March 1893.
ALS to Benson, 19 December 1884.
TLS to Brooke, Adela, 24 December 1897.
TLS to Brookfield, Charles H., 19 May 1898.
ANS to Browne & Browne, 19 November 1898. From the Drake Collection.
ALS to Chapman, E. W., 14 September 1874.
4 ALS to Chatto, 1882-1894.
ANS to Clark, J. Furr, 26 October 1887. From the Drake Collection.
ALS to Clifford, 5 June 1889.
ALS, 2 ALI to Colles, William Morris, 1892-1897.
ALS to Cook, Keningale Robert, 19 June 1886.
6 ALS to Dixon, William Hepworth, 1876. Letterhead: Palestine Exploration Fund. From the Drake Collection.
ALS to Fortescue, 31 January 1894.
ALS to Gilchrist, Miss, 7 October 1893.
ALS to Greenwood, I. G., 8 September 1873.
3.11 ANS to Harrison, Mr., 29 March 1890.
ALS to Haynes, 27 March 1901.
TLS to Henslow, George, 15 October 1897. From the Drake Collection.
ALS to Hitchman, John, 23 September 1886.
ALS to Kipling, Rudyard, 20 September 1894.
ALS to Lane, 22 February 1894.
ALS to Loftie, William John, 1 February 1884.
ALS to Mendenhall, Lawrence, 12 April 1895.
ALS to Middleton, R. Morton, 24 January 1882. Letterhead: Palestine Exploration Fund. From the Drake Collection.
ALS to Miles, A. H., 8 October 1884.
ALS to Murray, Rita A., 19 August 1899. From the Drake Collection.
ALS to Norman, 1 October 1895.
ALS to Pettie, John, 29 July 1890.
ALS to Pole, William, 3 July 1891.
ALS to Rylands, Paul, 25 October 1887.
ALS to Scoones, W. Baptiste, 21 February 1887.
ALS to Sims, George Robert, 25 May 1895.
TLS to Smiles, Alfred, 13 December 1898.
TLS to Temple, E. J., Miss, 16 September 1897.
5 ALS to Thomas, William Moy, 1884-1893.
ALS to Todd, Charles Burr, 15 February 1892. Letterhead: Incorporated Society of Authors. From the Drake Collection.
ALS to Tomkins, H. G., 6 November 1883. Included with this: ALS E. H. Palmer to J. Prior, 17 May 1875.
ALS to Vincent, 4 March 1890.
ALS to White, 1 September 1885.
TLS to Woods, Mary, 29 September 1899. Letterhead: The Society of Authors.
ALS to Wycherley, W., 26 April 1869.
ANS to Yonge, Charlotte Mary, 8 April 1889. Letterhead: Incorporated Society of Authors. From the Drake Collection.


3.12 Besant, _____. ANS to Haywood, 17 December 1897.
Besant, William Henry, 1828-1917. ALS to unidentified recipient, 2 November 1912.
3.11 Palmer, Edward Henry, 1840-1882. ALS to Prior, Joseph, 17 May 1875. Included with ALS Sir Walter Besant to H. G. Tomkins, 6 November 1883.

Explanatory Note Concerning Manuscript Collections Cataloged in the Card Catalog

Prior to 1990 when archival cataloging procedures were adopted at the Ransom Center, all manuscript collections were described in a card catalog.

Organization of Collections:

Manuscripts for each author collection were organized into four categories:

  • Works: manuscripts by the author, arranged alphabetically by title;
  • Letters: the author's outgoing correspondence, arranged alphabetically by recipient name;
  • Recipient: the author's incoming correspondence, arranged alphabetically by the author of the letter; and
  • Miscellaneous: all other manuscripts and correspondence, arranged alphabetically by creator.

Materials that did not fit into these categories, such as art, photographs, books, and near-print materials such as newspaper clippings, were dispersed to other Ransom Center collections for cataloging and storage.

Abbreviations Used in Descriptions:

The symbols below were used in combinations. For example ALS means autograph letter signed; Tccms means typed carbon copy manuscript, etc.

  • A = autograph (i.e., handwritten)
  • T = typed
  • S = signed
  • I = initialed
  • Ms = manuscript
  • Mss = manuscripts
  • L = letter
  • FL = form letter
  • N = note
  • D = document
  • C = card
  • PC = post card
  • cc = carbon copy
  • p = page
  • pp = pages
  • l = leaf
  • ll = leaves
  • nd = no date
  • inc d = incomplete date