Fonds MUNB - Papers of A. J. Munby and Hannah Cullwick

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Papers of A. J. Munby and Hannah Cullwick


  • 1850s-1907 (Creation)

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Extent and medium

94 volumes, 30 boxes paper

Context area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Arthur John Munby was born at York in 1828, eldest son of Joseph Munby and his wife Caroline. After attending school in his home city he was admitted to Trinity College Cambridge in 1848 whence he graduated BA in 1851. He was admitted to Lincoln's inn in 1851 and called to the Bar in 1855, but ultimately found a career in the Ecclesiastical Commission, where he remained until 1888 while simultaneously pursuing a not unsuccessful, but ultimately unspectacular literary career, publishing several poetry collections.

Munby was a detailed diarist, recording London life and his travels for much of the latter half of the nineteenth century. Chief among his interests was the lives of working-class women, which he documented in his diaries, in sketches and in his collections of photographs that included pit-girls, fisherwomen and female acrobats. in 1873 he married a servant, Hannah Cullwick, who continued in her profession and so the relationship remained clandestine until Munby's death in 1910.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

The Munby archive was bequeathed to the British Museum on the understanding that the deed boxes in which it was held were not to be opened until 1950. The Museum declining them, they were placed in Trinity College Library under the same conditions.

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Scope and content

Diaries of Arthur Munby, 1859-98; diaries of visits to Hannah, 1885-1907; notebooks, 1864-87; Hannah’s diaries, 1854-73; letters from Hannah to Munby, 1870-1907; manuscripts of Munby’s poetry; manuscript of 'Faithful Servants'; albums of photographs and cartes de visite, 1850s-1900s.

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      Finding aids

      A brief list of the archive, a catalogue of the drawings in Munby's manuscripts and copies of the indexes to Munby's diaries are available in the library.

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      Related units of description

      See also: Arthur Munby: poems about and postcards to Hannah Cullwick, Add.MS.a.631.

      Publication note


      Sarah Edge, The Extraordinary Archive of Arthur J. Munby: Photographing Class and Gender in the Nineteenth Century (2015)

      Michael Hiley, Victorian Working Women: Portraits from Life, (1979)

      Derek Hudson, Munby: Man of Two Worlds (1972)

      Liz Stanley, The Diaries of Hannah Cullwick, Victorian Maidservant (1984)

      Publication note

      These papers have been digitised, and may be viewed as part of the Gender: Identity and Social Change collection offered on-line by Adam Matthew Digital. Access requires a paid subscription, but a free four-week trial may be requested by teachers, faculty and librarians of universities, colleges, and academic institutions (private and public).

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