Catalogue of illustrated notebooks of William Gilpin, 'Remarks on Forests', 1781

Bodleian Library, University of Oxford

C. Parker


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Illustrated notebooks of William Gilpin, 'Remarks on Forests', 1781

Four illustrated notebooks of William Gilpin, 'Remarks on Forests', 1781

Shelfmarks: MSS. Eng. e. 3326-9**

Extent: 6 shelfmarks
Binding: Blind-stamped reversed brown calf (rebacked with original backstrips laid down), stamped 'WG' in the centre of each board, gilt-ruled spine, lettered 'Forest Scenery', marbled endpapers, ticket on end pastedown, 'CABINET C/5, SHELF 4'. The volumes have been removed from two dark green half morocco slipcases, with green linen chemises, 20th cent. These slipcases have been boxed separately as MSS. Eng. e. 3329* and Eng. e. 3329**.

Biographical History

William Gilpin (1724-1804) was the headmaster of a school at Cheam from 1755 to 1785 and vicar of Boldre in Hampshire from 1777 to 1804. He was the author of various educational and religious works and acquired a considerable reputation as an educationalist, but he is best known now as a forerunner of the Romantic movement. His accounts of his summer journeys through various part of Britain, published at intervals from 1782, were enormously influential in popularising appreciation of the natural beauty of the landscape. His ideas of the picturesque provided the foundation on which men like Humphry Repton and John Nash built in the early years of the 19th century. See - Dictionary of National Biography.

Scope and Content

The four notebooks contain a fair copy in an unidentified hand of 'Remarks on Forests; and other Woodland Scenery, (relative chiefly to picturesq [sic] beauty) illustrated by the scenes of New Forest in Hampshire, in three books', 1781, with many additions and corrections in Gilpin's own hand. They include 45 watercolours by Gilpin (including MS. Eng. e. 3327, fols. 23-5) and three drawings by his brother, Sawrey Gilpin.

Custodial History

Armorial bookplates, 'William Gilpin', inside upper covers of all notebooks. Presentation inscription from William Gilpin to his nephew, William Gilpin of the Strand, London (MS. Eng. e. 3326, fol. 2). Inscribed, 'Kenneth McDow, Chicago, Ill. 1940' (MS. Eng. e. 3327, fol. 2). Inscribed, 'These two volumes were purchased from the William Randolph Hearst Collection' (MS. Eng. e. 3326, fol.2).


Bought, Christies, 4 June 2001, lot 24, with the aid of grants from Resource/V & A Purchase Grant Fund, the Friends of the National Libraries, and Bodley's American Friends.

Preferred Form of Citation

Oxford, Bodleian Library [followed by shelfmark and folio or page reference, e.g. MS. Eng. e. 3326, fols. 1-2].

Related Material

A description of Gilpin's papers can be found in M. Clapinson and T.D. Rogers, Summary Catalogue of Post-Medieval Western Manuscripts in the Bodleian Library, Oxford. Acquisitions 1916-1975. (Oxford, 1991), vol. I, nos. 42402-697, including 56 notebooks and volumes of earlier drafts of Remarks on Forest Scenery, nos. 42434-40.

Bibliographical References

This work was first published as Remarks on forest scenery, and other woodland views, (relative chiefly to picturesque beauty) illustrated by the scenes of New-Forest in Hampshire. In three books... by William Gilpin... (London, 1791).

Personal names (NCA Rules)

Gilpin | William | 1724-1804 | clergyman, educationalist, biographer and topographer
Gilpin | Sawrey | 1733-1807 | painter

Place names (NCA Rules)

New Forest | Hampshire

Subjects (LCSH)

Nature (Aesthetics)
Picturesque, The -- Early works to 1800

Descriptive List

'Remarks on Forests...', Book 1, 1781
Shelfmark: MS. Eng. e. 3326
Extent: 222 leaves

'Remarks on Forests...', Book 2, 1781
Shelfmark: MS. Eng. e. 3327
Extent: 216 leaves

'Remarks on Forests...', Book 3, Sections 1-6, 1781
Shelfmark: MS. Eng. e. 3328
Extent: 182 leaves

Scope and Content:

Contains (fol. 6) map of the New Forest, Hampshire, c.1781.

'Remarks on Forests...', Book 3, Sections 7-11, 1781
Shelfmark: MS. Eng. e. 3329
Extent: 164 leaves

Transformation from XML to HTML by Lawrence Mielniczuk
18 May 2011