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Letters of Samuel Smiles

 Fonds — Box: CLX-A-373
Identifier: Coll-1877

Scope and Contents

Collection of 17 autograph letters signed (ALS), from Samuel Smiles (Scottish author and government reformer) to various correspondents, discussing literary and publishing matters, his works and lectures, and various business and financial matters.

  1. 29 November 1852: letter to Thomas Nunneley, one page, 4to., relating to 'the amount of compensation which was to be offered to representatives of the late Mr. Granger'.
  2. 28 December 1852: letter to Thomas Nunneley, two pages, 4to., relating to the Stockton and Hartlepool Company.
  3. 18 December 1860: letter to T. J. Sendamore, four pages, 8vo., declining an invitation to give a lecture
  4. 2 October 1865: letter to Mr. Dowell, one page, 8vo., saying 'I now send you the copy of the last chapter. I suppose the book will be from 500 to 510 pages?'
  5. 29 November 1866: letter to Robert Spence, two pages, 8vo., relating to the Friends Provident society.
  6. 8 October 1867: letter to an unnamed correspondent, two pages, 8vo., relating to 'proposals for assurance', and saying that 'We have on the whole, considering the extremely unparalleled state of trade, done a very fair business during the past season. But there is still room for improvement; we are still in want of an increased number of proposals to bring us up to the standard for the year that we had proposed'.
  7. 23 March 1868: letter to Bernard Burke, two pages, 8vo., relating to a paper about the escape of the huguenot Sevigne from France, that Smiles would like to read to include in future editions of his Huguenots.
  8. 13 May 1870: letter to Thomas Hayes, two pages, 8vo., thanking him for his suggestion to issue a cheap edition of Thrift.
  9. 29 May 1876: letter to Charles Sharpe, two pages, 8vo., declining the invitation of the directors of the Liverpool Institute to preside at their next meeting, due to his health.
  10. 1 January 1877: letter Helen Zimmern, two pages, 8vo., attributing the quote "Temper is nine tenths of Christianity" used in his book Self Help" to Bishop Hall.
  11. 4 February 1882: letter to an unnamed correspondent, one page, 8vo., saying "I am at home, though I might have been in Spain but the doctor says "No". I shall be very glad to call upon you on Tuesday at 12 and to remain lunch as you so kindly asked.'
  12. 19 April 1883: letter to J. T. Bacon, one page, 8vo., saying 'Railway Property and Physical Education were out of print many years ago. There is no probability of their being republished.'
  13. 25 August 1883: letter to R. S. Watson, two pages, 8vo., declining to give a lecture before the members of the Newcastle upon Tyne Literary & Philosophical Society, due to his health.
  14. 20 March 1889: letter to Perry Mason, two pages, 8vo., replying to his proposal to write an article and saying he will consider it. although he is 'now getting an old man, and writing articles is no longer so easy to [him] as it once was.'
  15. 16 May 1889: letter to Earnest E. Partington, two pages, 8vo., saying that 'John Wesley Hackworths [sic] reply to Mr. Hobson, is a series of monstrous fabrications'.
  16. 15 May 1891: letter to R. M. Sillard, two pages, 8vo., saying: 'It is impossible to answer your question. Every book leaves its impression. When I was a boy, I learnt from elocution - the name I forgot; but I learnt nearly every word of it by heart. It contained descriptions, essays of Addison, orations, poetry, dramas - many of which I had to learn and recite. That book no doubt exercised a considerable influence on my mind. But since then, I have read hundreds of books, year after year; and each book made its impression on me. I have been reading now for more than seventy years; and probably the last book I have read has made as great an impression on me as the first. It would take an immense catalogue to describe the "Books that have exercised the greatest influence on my mind".'
  17. 18 August 1896: letter to Fred A. Turner, one page, 8vo., saying: 'I shall be glad to see you next Friday morning. I trust you may get a good photograph of my library.'


  • Creation: 1852-1896


Language of Materials


Physical Description

31 pages, octavo and quarto

Conditions Governing Access

Open. Please contact the repository in advance.


17 letters


Arranged chronologically.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchased in July 2018. Accession no SC-Acc-2018-0140.

Physical Description

31 pages, octavo and quarto

Processing Information

Catalogued by Aline Brodin in August 2018, using information from the seller.



Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Edinburgh Library Heritage Collections Repository

Centre for Research Collections
University of Edinburgh Main Library
George Square
Edinburgh EH8 9LJ Scotland
+44(0)131 650 8379