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Oliver Bock


This paper presents previously unknown pieces of correspondence between C. P. Cooper (1793–1873), the secretary of the British Record Commission, and two German scholars who supported the Commission’s search for sources concerning the history of the English language and its literature. The letters illustrate how the Commission’s research effort on the Continent was organised by Cooper and his German partners. Their course of action will be contextualised within the Commission’s history up to its abrupt end in 1837 in order to show to what extent these research endeavours and the correspondences were determined by adversarial circumstances that led first to a Parliamentary inquiry into the Commission’s work and finally to its termination.

Amos van Baalen


James Platt Jr (1861–1910) is not often mentioned in relation to Anglo-Saxon studies. The main reason for his elusiveness is his involvement in a plagiarism case in the early 1880s that resulted in a reprimand from the Philological Society. While the affair has been discussed before on the basis of the correspondence of Pieter Jacob Cosijn (1840–1899) (see Bremmer 1991: xxi–xxiv), this article calls attention to other documents that shed a new light on the particulars of the case. These sources include a biography of Platt written by his brother, correspondence between Platt, Eduard Sievers (1850–1932), and Henry Sweet (1845–1912), as well as the minutes of the Philological Society meetings in which the case was discussed. Combined, these sources not only reveal the exact details of Platt’s plagiarism, but also highlight the role of correspondence in knowledge exchange and scholarly misconduct in the nineteenth century.

Catherine Squires


This paper deals with the correspondence between Carl Heinrich Dreyer (1723–1802), the syndic of Lübeck, Germany, and Gerhard Friedrich Müller (1705–1783), Secretary of the Academy of Sciences in Saint Petersburg, Russia. The letters, written in 1761–1762, exhibit international cooperation in the scholarly study of medieval Hanseatic trade with Novgorod the Great. Dreyer’s letter accompanies his gift to the Academy of a thirteenth-century parchment document, a lesser-known copy of the famous treaty of 1269. This article discusses Dreyer’s membership of the Academy in connection to the prospects of further research cooperation. In addition, details of archival practice and aspects of scholarly morals are discussed against a background of ethical, historical and political issues of the day. As this article will demonstrate, some consequences of the described events and decisions can be connected to modern problems of historiography.

Beijia Chen


Hermann Paul (1846–1921) and his seminal work Principien der Sprachgeschichte (1st edn 1880; 5th edn 1920) have played a significant part in the history of linguistic ideas. Historiographical studies on Paul and his work are mainly conducted in the light of the second edition of Principien (1886) by revealing the divergent and convergent viewpoints between Paul and other prominent scholars. In order to expand the current knowledge of Paul’s role in the discourse of his time, this paper will trace the influence of Paul’s linguistic ideas shortly after the first edition of Principien by analyzing the citations of his works in the publications of contemporary scholars (the so-called ‘citation network’). Furthermore, evidence from scholarly correspondence, which exerted great influence on the development of linguistic ideas at an informal level, will shed light on Paul’s role from a different perspective. Within these two aspects, namely the citation network and the scholarly correspondence, we will reassess the influence of Paul’s linguistic ideas, especially in connection with the first edition of Principien.

Arend Quak


The University Library in Utrecht holds photocopies of 19 letters by the Dutch celtologist A. G. van Hamel (1886–1945) to Icelandic friends. The originals lay in the Landsbókasafn in Reykjavík. The first letter is written in English and concerns the preparations of van Hamel’s second trip to Iceland in 1929. All other letters are in Icelandic. A few letters concern the poem van Hamel composed in commemoration of Iceland’s 1000th birthday in 1930. The other letters (from 1929 to 1937) concern van Hamel’s membership of the Íslenzkt Bókmenntafélag and the exchange of scholars and books between the universities of Utrecht and Reykjavík. The last letter contains a report about the situation in Holland after the liberation in 1945.

Daniel Thomas


Joseph Bosworth’s copy of Samuel Fox’s 1835 edition of The Metres of Boethius, presented to him by the editor, contains (pasted to the covers) a fragmentary record of the correspondence between the two men which must have extended from 1833 until Fox’s death in 1870. Partial and short as it is, this record of the two men’s correspondence, read in the context of other contemporary documents, gives an interesting (and sometimes amusing) insight into the practice of Anglo-Saxon scholarship in the period. This article will present the letters in this context, and examine the lasting friendship and collaboration of Fox and Bosworth against a backdrop of controversy, religious dispute, and patriotic fervour. In so doing, this article will also consider the legacy of Samuel Fox, a scholar now routinely marginalized in histories of the discipline, but who was held in high regard by at least some of his contemporaries.

Rachel Fletcher


In the Dictionarium Saxonico-Latino-Anglicum (1659), the first published dictionary of Old English, its compiler, William Somner (?1606–1669), expresses his gratitude for the “most active and effectual assistance” of the herald and antiquary William Dugdale (1605–1686) in bringing the work to publication. However, this brief mention conveys little about the long-standing working relationship between the two men, which was already in place when Somner began work on the Dictionarium and which continued after its publication. The author shows how surviving correspondence can help build a fuller picture, drawing on letters frequently cited in connection with the Dictionarium alongside less discussed material. This article situates Dugdale’s “active and effectual assistance” with the Dictionarium in the wider context of the antiquarian interests and projects he shared with Somner. In doing so, it also demonstrates how each of the two men was able to contribute his own expertise and resources to the work of the other. As such, this article emphasises both the importance of such collaboration for the development of Old English studies in the seventeenth century and the significant overlap in this period between linguistic investigation and broader antiquarian activities.

Thijs Porck


This article calls attention to documents relating to the early academic life of G. J. P. J. Bolland (1854–1922). During the late 1870s and early 1880s, Bolland was enthralled by the study of Old Germanic languages and Old English in particular. His endeavours soon caught the eye of Pieter Jacob Cosijn (1840–1899), Professor of Germanic Philology and Anglo-Saxon at Leiden University, who helped the Groningen-born student to further his studies. During his stays in London and Jena, Bolland communicated with prominent scholars, including Henry Sweet, Richard Morris and Eduard Sievers. Bolland’s annotated books, hand-written notes and scholarly correspondence provide a unique insight into academic life and student-professor relationships during the late nineteenth century. In addition, Bolland produced an Old English love poem and a Beowulf summary that are published here for the first time.


Scholarly Correspondence on Medieval Germanic Language and Literature

Thijs Porck, Amos van Baalen and Jodie Mann

Ton van Kalmthout


This article offers some reflections on the use of correspondence for the history of scholarly disciplines. These reflections are based on a case study of two prominent philologists from the Netherlands: the historian and archivist Hendrik van Wijn (1740–1831) and the literary scholar and cultural historian Allard Pierson (1831–1896). After a short overview of the development of the object of research, methodology and professionalization of nineteenth-century philology, the article points out three aspects that make letters written by philologists a valuable source for the history of the discipline: their function as a carrier of knowledge and insights, the information they provide about the ethnology of knowledge, and the fact that they were used as a medium for confidential expression.