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COWPER, WILLIAM (1731-1800)

  • Publication of the papers of William Cowper by the Oxford University Press in 1979-1986 shows that Princeton is evidently the leading library in the United States for holdings of Cowper material. These holdings are based on two major collections: Hannay and Povey.

    The Hannay collection was purchased for the Library by Robert H. Taylor in 1962. There are about 325 books and more than 150 pamphlets in the Hannay collection alone. It is a nearly complete collection of all the early editions of his works.

    Most valuable in that collection is the set of Cowper's works extra-illustrated by William Upcott (1799-1845). He embellished the set with 779 portraits, miscellaneous plates, and autographs.
    Listings for the contents of the volumes are available online, per the following table:

    Volume no. per Upcott
    Link to listing

    • Hayley, William, 1745-1820.  The life, and posthumous writings, of William Cowper,   London, 1806.  4 v.   Princeton University Library call number (Ex) 3693.7.716.1806a 

    The Iliad of Homer, tr. into English blank verse, by William Cowper, Esq., London, 1810. (Ex)3693.7.347.1810.
    The Odyssey ... translated into English blank verse, by W. Cowper, Esq., London, 1810. (Ex)3693.7.347.1810a.
    Private correspondence of William Cowper, Esq., with several of his most intimate friends, London, 1824. (Ex)3693.

    •Cowper, William. Poems, London, 1800 (2 vol.) and Vol. III, London, 1815. (Ex) 3693.7.1800a


    • Poems, Translated from the French of Madame de la Mothe Guion,  London, 1811.
    Bound with Power of Grace illustrated, in Six Letters from a minister of the Reformed Church to John Newton, London, 1792. (Ex)  3693.7.342.1811


    • Cowper, Memoir, (London, 1816); Life, by J. Corry (London, 1803); Sermon, by S. Greathead (London, 1800) and some other biographical titles.   (Ex)  3693.7.311.1819



    Also consult: The Povey Collection of William Cowper (A Catalogue) [(Ex) 3693.7.075].

    All books in the Cowper collections form part of the General Rare Book Collection (Ex).

    For particulars refer to: Norma Russell. A Bibliography of William Cowper to 1837. (Oxford, 1963) [(ExB) 3693.7.079]. Princeton's copy has been checked against holdings in the Library.

    Also, for further details, see: Charles Ryskamp, "William Cowper and His Circle: A Study of the Hannay Collection" in the Princeton University Library Chronicle XXIV, 1 (Autumn, 1962) pp. 3-26 [ full text]. (The Reverend John Newton, associate of Cowper and abolitionist, was given an honorary degree by Princeton.)

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