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Cyril Brett archive (18th-20th C.)

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The collection contains several hundred notebooks, notes, lists, cuttings, postcards, essays, theatre programmes and illustrations. The notes and notebooks refer to Brett’s research interests, including: the English language, Beowulf, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Tennyson, Shakespeare, philology, plant names, inn signs, geography, chess and heraldry.  

Date range: 1792-1930

Strengths: Of particular interest is an original manuscript of William Gilpin, Three Essays (published in 1792), with extensive alterations for an intended new edition, which was eventually published posthumously in 1808, with nine original drawings. The collection also contains an annotated copy of Chronicon Galfridi le Baker de Swynebroke, ed. E.M. Thompson (Oxford, 1889); Milton Tercentenary: The portraits, prints and writings of John Milton (Cambridge, 1908), extra-illustrated and annotated by Cyril Brett; and a 1925 edition of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, edited by J. R. R. Tolkien and E. V. Gordon, together with two handwritten postcards from Tolkien to Brett relating to the edition.

Size: 7 boxes, 3.5 metres

Languages: English; Old English; Middle English

Keywords: Old English, Middle English, Beowulf, Tennyson, Shakespeare, Milton, Chaucer, philology, plant names, geography, chess, heraldry.

Notes: Arthur Cyril Adair Brett (1882-1936) was Professor of English (1921-36) at University College Cardiff, having joined the College staff in 1907. His printed books and manuscripts were purchased by the College in 1936. The Brett collection includes a number of notebooks of Herbert Bruce, Professor of History, (1908-35) and one of Harold Littledale, Professor of English (1899-1921), which were presumably given to Cyril Brett.  See also, the Tennyson Collection, built up by Brett.