Leigh Hunt: Autograph Letters and Other Materials (Collection)

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About the Collection

About the Digital Collection
leigh hunt letter

The digital collection includes a selection of letters and writing fragments to, from, and regarding Leigh Hunt. The collection includes both transcripts and original documents and is organized into categories of correspondences and writing fragments. The collection was digitized using Zeutschel OS 15000. Images were captured in color at 600dpi and saved as .tiff images. Images were cropped and enhanced using Photoshop to improve clarity.

Transcriptions provided by unknown sources are available for many of the documents. Where these transcripts are not available, MU Libraries Digital Services is working to provide corrected OCR and manually generated transcriptions.
About the Physical Collection

The collection is housed in the University of Missouri Libraries Special Collection and Rare Books Department. The collection is organized into four series: correspondence, images of Leigh Hunt, fragments of writing, and miscellaneous documents. It includes letters written to and from Leigh Hunt, as well as letters authored by his son, Thornton Hunt. The collection also includes several letters written after Hunt's death that discuss his work. The writing fragments in the collection are largely authored by Leigh Hunt and include lists, indexes of texts, and pieces of personal writing and poetry. Additional details about the collection can be found in the catalog record.

Some documents were not digitized. These include three images of Leigh Hunt, a blank post card, an envelope of pressed flowers, and an ad clipping for two letters: one from Leigh Hunt's mother-in-law to her daughter, and one from Bell Hill to Leigh Hunt.

Digital Services
to provide further information or corrections to this collection.

Image source: Letter from Leigh Hunt to L. Lawrence.

Additional Resources

Digital Resources:

From MU Libraries:

The University of Iowa's Leigh Hunt: The Letters collection.

Visit the MU Libraries catalog for more resources:


leigh hunt portrait

James Henry Leigh Hunt, 1784-1859, was an English poet, essayist, and critic. A contemporary of Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and John Keats, Hunt was an influential particpant in the literary community of 19th century Britain.

Hunt was born October 19, 1784 in Southgate, London, to Isaac and Mary Hunt, and spent his early education at Christ's Hospital in London. He was often ill and afflicted with panic and anxiety attacks, but friends and acquaintances often observed his cheerful and easy-going disposition. In 1809 Hunt married Marianne Kent, with whom he had ten children.

Hunt published his first volume of poetry, Juvenilia, in 1801. The collection was a popular success, and a fourth edition was published in 1804. Soon Hunt began contributing for evening papers and writing theatrical reviews, many of which were gathered in a volume called Critical Essays on the Performers of the London Theatre. In 1808 he became the editor of The Examiner, a weekly publication started by Hunt and his brother that sought to provide impartial political commentary. He would continue to write and edit The Examiner for the next 13 years, during which time he would experience prosecution and imprisonment for his comments on the character of the prince regent. Over the course of his career, Hunt also wrote and edited for The Reflector and The Indicator, and contributed to numerous other publications. He was an accomplished poet, and his most popular works include The Story of Rimini, The Descent of Liberty, and The Feast of the Poets.

Hunt was active in the literary community of Britain and cultivated friendships with numerous poets and essayists of the time. In 1816 Hunt published Keats' sonnet "O Solitude" in The Examiner, bringing him to the literary stage in Britain and facilitating his rise to prominence. He shared a mutual admiration with Byron and formed a lasting friendship with Shelley, who often supported Hunt during his bouts of poor health and financial distress. Hunt was also said to have been the inspiration for the character Harold Skimpole in Charles Dickens' Bleak House.

Hunt died August 28, 1859, after a lifetime of ill health. In the final years of his life Hunt struggled financially and domestically, attempting to care for his wife's failing health and relying on unstable income from his publications. His Autobiography was published in three volumes in 1850; he later revised the volumes shortly before his death. His son, Thornton, published the revised edition in 1860, along with two volumes of his Correspondences published in 1862. He was buried in Kensal Green cemetery, alongside his wife.

Image source: The Correspondence of Leigh Hunt, Vol. 1. Smith, Elder and Co., 1862.