William Bell Scott and the Pre-Raphaelites

The Manuscripts Division is pleased to announce the acquisition of the William E. Fredeman Collection of William Bell Scott, the Scott Family, and Alice Boyd (C1459), a recent addition to Princeton’s extensive Pre-Raphaelite manuscript holdings. William Bell Scott (1811–90) was a Scottish poet, painter, art critic, and engraver, known for his association with the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, founded in London by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Holman Hunt, and John Everett Millais. Included in the collection are drafts and corrected page proofs for Scott’s poetry and prose works, proofs of engraved illustrations, binding dummies, bound volumes, drawings, correspondence, personal documents, and family papers. The collection also includes personal and family correspondence of Alice Boyd (1824–97), Scott’s life partner and mistress from 1859 until his death in 1890. Alice Boyd owned and resided at Penkill Castle in Ayrshire, Scotland, where the Boyd family had lived since the thirteenth century. There Scott and his wife Letitia spent half of their time beginning in the early 1860s, the three residing together in Scott’s London flat for the rest of the year. Scott completed one of his major works on the castle’s staircase, a series of large historical murals illustrating “The King’s Quair,” a poem attributed to King James I of Scotland (r. 1406–37).

William E. Fredeman (1928–99) was a respected scholar of Victorian and Pre-Raphaelite literature who taught at the University of British Columbia from 1956 until 1991 and amassed an extensive personal collection of materials related to the Pre-Raphaelites, especially Dante Gabriel Rossetti. The materials acquired by Princeton are comprised of papers of William Bell Scott and Alice Boyd once at Penkill Castle. Fredeman obtained the papers from descendants of Alice Boyd. The collection also contains letters of Christina Rossetti, W. J. Linton, William Morris, and others. Also notable is a complete bound manuscript of A Poet’s Harvest Home, Scott’s final collection of poetry published first in 1882 and again in 1893, which Scott copied out in its entirety by hand over several months in 1881. He inscribed and presented the manuscript, containing many corrections and revisions, to Alice Boyd. Some early drafts of these poems, written during a flurry of activity at Penkill Castle during the late 1870s, are also included, as well as drafts and page proofs for the 1854 and 1875 versions of Poems.

In addition to William Bell Scott’s works and correspondence, the Scott family papers include official documents regarding marriage, guild membership, and feudal property, along with estate papers, correspondence, and writings of several known family members, including William Bell Scott’s brother, the historical painter David Scott (1806-1849); and their father, Robert Scott (1777–1841), an engraver of book illustrations and landscapes. Of note are several lengthy letters from David Scott to his father describing his study of art in Rome in the 1830s, and an 1845 letter to his brother elucidating his general philosophy of art, which William Bell Scott likely used in writing his brother’s memoirs.

A finding aid, which provides a more detailed description of the collection’s contents, can be accessed online at http://findingaids.princeton.edu/collections/C1459 This collection joins Princeton’s other William Bell Scott holdings, in the William Bell Scott Collection (C0959) and the Janet Camp Troxell Collection of Rossetti Manuscripts (C0189). For more about the William E. Fredeman Collection of William Bell Scott, the Scott Family, and Alice Boyd, along with Princeton’s other Pre-Raphaelite holdings, researchers should contact rbsc@princeton.edu

Penkill Castle drawing, n.d.

Drawing for Penkill Castle, n.d.

Scott Proof Engraving for blogpost

Proof engraving for Poems (1854)