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John Donne and the Conway PapersPatronage and Manuscript Circulation in the Early Seventeenth Century$
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Daniel Starza Smith

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199679133

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199679133.001.0001

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The Curious History of the Conway Papers

The Curious History of the Conway Papers

(p.133) 7 The Curious History of the Conway Papers
John Donne and the Conway Papers

Daniel Starza Smith

Oxford University Press

This chapter tells the story of the Conway Papers in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. When the manuscripts were discovered by Horace Walpole in the 1750s they had been severaly damaged by rodents, damp, and over-enthusiastic pastry-chefs. Walpole realized how important his find was, but was too busy to do anything with the archive. The collection was given to John Wilson Croker, who sorted through it and donated it to the state. The chapter captures the excitement and confusion that the Conway Papers have inspired in scholars and antiquaries over 250 years; it casts new light on Croker, ‘a man who would go a hundred miles through snow and sleet on top of a coach to search a parish register and prove a man illegitimate or a woman older than she says she is’, and on the formation of collections at the British Library and UK National Archives.

Keywords:   Horace Walpole, Wilson Croker, Hertford, Ragley, John Murray, British Museum, British Library, National Archives, conservation, Nicholas Throckmorton

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