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Collection Level Description: Papers of William Beckford, 1787-1811

Reference: MSS. Eng. lett. c. 499-501; Eng. misc. e. 1236; Portuguese c. 1
Title: Papers of William Beckford, 1787-1811
Dates of Creation: 1787-1811
Extent: 5 shelfmarks

Language of Material: English and Portuguese

Administrative/Biographical History

William Beckford (1760-1844) was the author of the oriental tale Vathek and of several volumes of travel writings, the builder of Fonthill Abbey, and an important collector of paintings, objets d'art and books. Details are given in the Dictionary of National Biography.

Scope and Content

The papers consist of correspondence, a commonplace book and an agreement for the purchase by Beckford of a house in Lisbon. The papers relate to Beckford's affairs in Jamaica and Portugal.

Administrative Information

Custodial History

The papers were bought by Boyd Alexander in 1968 and 1975, except for MS. Eng. lett. c. 501, which was bequeathed by Charles Robin Hollway to Gerald Wellesley in 1921.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The papers were bequeathed to the Library by Boyd Alexander, 1980.

Access Conditions

Entry to read in the Library is permitted only on presentation of a valid reader's card (for admissions procedures see

Further Information

Finding Aids

A full description is available in the Library.

Related Units of Description

See also:

Access Points


Beckford | William | 1760-1844 | Author, MP, and Art Collector


Lisbon (Portugal)


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Transformation from XML to HTML by Lawrence Mielniczuk
09 June 2011