sub-fonds 355 - Papers of R. B. McKerrow

Identity area

Reference code

Add. MS a/355


Papers of R. B. McKerrow


  • 1924-42 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

1 box

Context area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Ronald Brunlees McKerrow was born in Putney in 1872, the son of a civil engineer, and was educated at Harrow, King’s College, London, and Trinity College, Cambridge. After leaving university he spent three years teaching English in Tokyo before beginning a period of intense literary and bibliographical study, largely at the British Museum, two important results of which were his edition of the works of Thomas Nashe (1904-10) and his Notes on Bibliographical Evidence (1914). The latter, revised as An Introduction to Bibliography for Literary Students (1927), became a standard work. From 1914 McKerrow also gave lectures in English literature, and later bibliography, at King’s College, London. In 1917 he was appointed managing director of the publishers Sidgwick & Jackson, and this was his main occupation till his death, but he was also honorary secretary of the Bibliography Society from 1912 to 1934, editor of the Review of English Studies (which he founded) from 1925 to 1940, and editor of The Library from 1934 to 1937. In 1929 he accepted an invitation to prepare an edition of Shakespeare for the Clarendon Press, but, though he prepared a good deal of material, only a general textual introduction ever saw print.

Archival history

These papers probably came from McKerrow’s family some time in the 1990s, but there is no record of their accession. On their arrival in the Library they were put into twenty-two numbered folders.

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Content and structure area

Scope and content

The papers mainly relate to McKerrow’s Introduction to Bibliography for Literary Students, first published in 1927, and two unpublished works—a bibliography of reprints of 16th and 17th century dramatists, and an essay on the elements of bibliography.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


System of arrangement

An inventory of the papers was made before they were catalogued. As the papers were clearly rather disordered, a more systematic order was adopted, following such indications of significant order as survived.

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Related units of description

The main series of McKerrow’s papers is catalogued under the reference MCKW. The Library also holds McKerrow’s own annotated copies of some of his publications (Adv. c. 25. 72-82), and loose papers extracted from these have been catalogued as Add. MS a. 457 and Add. MS a. 460.

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Rules and/or conventions used

The addresses of some institutions are given in a shortened form. In descriptions of ‘extent and medium’, a ‘single sheet’ is a single unfolded leaf of paper comprising 2 pages; a ‘folded sheet’ is a sheet of paper folded once, comprising 2 leaves and 4 pages.


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Dates of creation revision deletion

This catalogue was compiled by A. C. Green in 2009.




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