Fonds BRIG - Papers of Henry Arthur Bright

Identity area

Reference code



Papers of Henry Arthur Bright


  • c. 1830-84 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

18 boxes; paper

Context area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Henry Arthur Bright was born 9 February 1830 in Liverpool to Samuel and Elizabeth Anne Bright. He was educated at Rugby School and attended Trinity College, Cambridge from 1847 to 1851, and earned his degree there, but as a Unitarian was unable to graduate until the Test Act was repealed in 1856. He and his friend and relative James Heywood were the first dissenters to graduate at Cambridge, in 1857. On leaving Cambridge he was made a partner in his father's firm of Gibbs, Bright & Co., a shipowning business with an Australian packet ship line. In 1852 Bright met American writer Nathaniel Hawthorne, who became a close friend. Bright wrote for 'The Athenaeum' from 1871 until his death, and also contributed to Unitarian and Christian newspapers. He wrote histories of the Warrington Academy and of his family, an account of the Glenriddell manuscript of the poems of Robert Burns, an edition of poems from Sir Kenelm Digby's Papers (published by the Roxburghe Club), and an edition of the unpublished letters of Coleridge (published by the Philobiblon Society). His best known book was 'A Year in a Lancashire Garden' (1879). His health began to fail in 1882 and he died at his home near Liverpool on 5 May 1884. He was survived by his wife Mary Elizabeth, whom he had married in 1861, and with whom he had three sons and two daughters.

Archival history

A letter from his granddaughter Elizabeth M. Lloyd dated 9 September 1973 refers to letters taken out of the collection 'some years ago' and sold.
There is an undated preliminary listing of the first seven boxes listing correspondents, letter dates, and occasionally a summary. There is also a later listing of the first 17 boxes, listing the correspondent's name only. The last box appears unsorted and lacks a listing.

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Gift of Elizabeth M. Lloyd, 1973.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

The papers consist of over 2000 letters written to Henry Arthur Bright from friends, colleagues, and family members arranged in alphabetical order. Principal correspondents include Robert Brook Aspland, William Robert Brownlow, William Henry Channing, Lord Charlemont, William George Clark, Sir Reginald John Cust, Charles Milnes Gaskell, Lord Houghton (130 letters), Charles Eliot Norton, and Spencer Perceval (b 1828). There are also letters from Hungerford Crewe, and the Hawthorne family, but not Nathaniel himself: Nathaniel Hawthorne's wife Sophia, and children Una and Julian. Letters to Bright's family consist mainly of photocopies.

The last box contains a few miscellaneous items: notes, an essay on ''The Characteristic Difference between Ancient and Modern Civilization' which was awarded the English prize at Trinity College, and a bound volume containing proofs of Lord Houghton's 'Notes on "Endymion"' and Houghton's introduction to the works of Walter Savage Landor in Thomas Humphry Ward's 'The English Poets 1880-1918, Vol. IV, The Nineteenth Centry: Wordsworth to Rossetti', accompanied by a letter and a note from Lord Houghton.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


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Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Conditions governing reproduction

The photocopies may not be reproduced without permission of the holders of the original materials.

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      Existence and location of originals

      Existence and location of copies

      Related units of description

      Letters from Nathaniel Hawthorne to Henry Arthur Bright are housed in the Nathaniel Hawthorne Collection (YCAL MSS 204) in the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.

      Letters to Nathaniel Hawthorne from Henry Arthur Bright are in the Nathaniel Hawthorne Collection of Papers in the Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature in the New York Public Library.

      Related descriptions

      Notes area


      Cite as: Trinity College Library Cambridge, Papers of Henry Arthur Bright, BRIG.

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          Archivist's note

          Collection level description created by Diana Smith in June 2019, using the preliminary box lists.

          Accession area