Catalogue description John Payne Collection

This record is held by University of Birmingham: Cadbury Research Library: Special Collections

Details of JPC
Reference: JPC
Title: John Payne Collection

This collection includes original verse by John Payne and some of his translations. There are also corrected proofs and bound and unbound copies of his printed works; a few leaves of poems published in journals as well as copies of the Villon Society's publicity material for John Payne's work. Also included in the collection is a notebook belonging to Payne's sister, Annie Harriette, later Mrs Mostyn Pritchard (d 1917); correspondence involving her sons, Owen and Hugh Mostyn Pritchard; and autograph verse by Owen Mostyn Pritchard


The collection comprises letters from John Payne probably intended for publication in newspapers or journals; letters concerning John Payne's writings, 1896 and 1906; letters to and from Owen Mostyn Pritchard, 1898; John Payne's literary manuscripts and proof copies of his works; Owen Mostyn Pritchard's literary manuscripts, 1890-1892; other manuscript material; printed works by John Payne; printed material relating to the Villon Society; and other printed works

Date: 1869-1914

The collection is arranged in the following series: letters; manuscripts and galleyproofs; printed works

Related material:

University of Birmingham Information Services, Special Collections Department holds the Masterman Papers (GB 0150 CFGM)


Another collection of material relating to John Payne, comprising correspondence between Payne and Thomas Wright and other miscellaneous papers is held by the Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies (GB 0008 Payne mss)

Held by: University of Birmingham: Cadbury Research Library: Special Collections, not available at The National Archives
Language: English

Payne, John, 1842 - 1916, poet

Physical description: 12 boxes
Access conditions:



Access to all registered researchers


Copyright: Permission to make any published use of any material from the collection must be sought in advance in writing from the University Archivist, Special Collections. Identification of copyright holders of unpublished material is often difficult. Special Collections will assist where possible with identifying copyright owners, but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user of the material.

Immediate source of acquisition:

These papers were purchased with the Masterman Papers by the University of Birmingham Library in 1984.

Custodial history:

The letters, manuscripts and printed material which form the John Payne Collection were found among the Masterman Papers (GB 0150 CFGM). The John Payne papers were not separately identified in the first listing of the Masterman Papers (1987) and their significance only became evident during a re-examination and more detailed listing of the Masterman Papers in 1996.


No evidence has been found in the Masterman Papers as to how or when the Masterman family acquired the Payne material. Charles Masterman and Payne shared an admiration for the writings of Swinburne and Rossetti and, it is likely, that as a young man Charles would have read Payne's original poems and translations. Since the John Payne Collection includes not only Payne's own manuscripts but also some papers of his sister, Annie Mostyn Pritchard and her sons, it is probable that the collection was acquired after the deaths of both John Payne and Annie Mostyn Pritchard, possibly from Payne's biographer, Thomas Wright. The only definite link between Payne and Masterman is Masterman's article on John Payne which appeared in the Supplement to 'The Nation', 15 May 1920, pp 224 & 226 (a typescript of which is located in the Masterman Papers)

Administrative / biographical background:

John Payne (1842-1916), a poet, was much admired in the late 19th and early 20th centuries both for his original verse and for his translations of Arabic and Persian narratives. Payne was born in 1842 and lived for most of his life in London, where he worked as a solicitor. From 1866 onwards, he moved in artistic and literary circles, meeting some of the Pre-Raphaelites, Arthur Shaugnessy, Swinburne, Catulle Mende, Anatole France, Richard Burton and others. Payne's remarkable aptitude for language enabled him to translate French, Italian, Turkish, Arabic and Persian prose and verse. He never married and in later life became a recluse, dying on 15 February 1916.


References: Thomas Wright, 'The Life of Thomas Payne (1919); B. I. Evans, 'English Poetry in the Later Nineteenth Century (1933)

Link to NRA Record:

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