Thomas
Gray
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Finding Aid

Manuscripts


This finding aid to the manuscripts of Thomas Gray lists all identified autograph poetry manuscripts as well as transcripts in the hands of his contemporaries and early editors of his works (currently 290 MSS).

About the manuscripts

The majority of Gray's poems (67 of 75) survive in autograph MSS or (near) contemporary transcripts, only for eight poetical works is there no known MS copy. Gray's MSS were originally left to William Mason who was authorized by Gray in his will to "preserve or destroy at his own discretion." Mason edited many of Gray's letters and poems for his edition of 1775, which for a small number of letters and poems is now the only authority. When Mason died in 1797, Gray's MSS passed on to a mutual friend, Richard Stonhewer, who donated the most important item, Gray's Commonplace Books, to Pembroke College, Cambridge. Everything else, however, passed on to relatives and was ultimately dispersed in four auctions in the mid-19th century. Today the majority of Gray's papers are preserved in libraries, archives, and museums around the world, only a few remain unlocated or are privately owned.

About this finding aid

This integrated finding aid is a standards-based and up-to-date record of Gray's MSS and is intended as a research tool for Gray scholars. It is work-in-progress: when completed, it will contain all known Thomas Gray manuscripts, including his prose works, personal papers, and marginalia. Please see the overview and this help section for more information.