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Papers of James Coutts Maxwell (1916-1976), Fellow of Balliol 1946-9 and 1966-76


Biographical information

Balliol 1934-39; Warner Exhibition; Elton Exhibition and Powell Prize; Ist Classical Moderations 1936; Ist Literae Humaniores 1938; Ist English 1939; B.A. 1938; M.A. 1946. Passmore Edwards Scholar 1939; Assistant in Mental Philosophy, University of Aberdeen, 1939; Assistant Lecturer in Philosophy, Queen's University, Belfast, 1946-47; Andrew Bradley Fellow in English Literature, Balliol, 1946-49. Lecturer in English Literature, 1950; Senior Lecturer 1959; Reader 1961; Professor 1964 King's College, Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Reader in English Literature, Oxford University and Professorial Fellow of Balliol 1966. Killed in a road accident, 20 March 1976. Benefactor of the College.

See also the Balliol College Register, and the Balliol College Record 1976 for his obituary.

Provenance and Arrangement

After Maxwell's death the task of examining and ordering his papers fell to Roger Lonsdale, the other English Fellow at Balliol at the time (several letters and envelopes within the papers are written or addressed to Roger Lonsdale): Maxwell was a bachelor and his surviving relative did not feel able to undertake the responsibility. Thus Dr. Lonsdale examined the papers and books in Maxwell's rooms at the English Faculty and in Balliol, and in his flat. Some papers were found inside Maxwell's books: he was in the habit of keeping letters from correspondents in books by that author.

Professor Lonsdale estimated in 1995 that he had destroyed over nine-tenths of the papers, the remaining papers finding a home in the Library. The criterion he used in sorting the papers was mainly that of interest, for example, letters were kept if they were from a notable correspondent, or if their content was worth preserving. In sorting, Roger Lonsdale was also aware of the discretion necessary in dealing with such recent papers. The state of the papers, i.e. how well-ordered they were, was also a factor. Some lectures and notes were kept, as well as correspondence, as a sample of Maxwell's work in teaching and research. Soon after Maxwell's death the question was raised whether it might be possible to publish some of his unpublished work, however this never came to fruition: Lonsdale himself did not feel Maxwell would have wanted this to happen.

In 1991 the material in boxes 1-8 below was listed and stored in acid-free boxes.

The material listed in section 9 was located in the Librarian's Office in 1995: it had become separated from the rest of the Maxwell papers before they were listed in 1991. When Roger Lonsdale sorted the papers, this cabinet was stored for some time in his office, which is presumably why it got separated from the other papers. Roger Lonsdale commented in 1995 that he probably decided to keep this cabinet because it was in a reasonably tidy state.

The material in section 9 is housed in a small cabinet: sections 1-6 below correspond to the divisions between the 6 drawers of the cabinet. It is almost entirely AMS notes or writings by Maxwell, on a variety of literary topics. Many appear to be notes for lectures. Many of the notes have page numbers on them but some have become disordered and some appear to be fragmentary: however, we do not know whether this happened accidentally, or if Maxwell deliberately re-ordered the papers himself after numbering the pages, for example if he revised a lecture he was to give. In a few places pages, where they seemed obviously muddled, were re-ordered. Basically though, the arrangement was left as found.

All letters are to J.C. Maxwell unless otherwise stated.

Abbreviations used in the list

ALS=autograph letter(s) signed (in the hand of the author).

AMS=autograph manuscript(s)

APS=autograph postcard(s) signed (in the hand of the author).

n.d.=no date

TLS= typed letter(s) signed by the author.





Correspondence (ordered by Roger Lonsdale. There is a list of correspondents on the outside of the folder and the letters are arranged alphabetically by correspondent).

Notes and Queries , Vol. 23, No. 5-6, May-June 1976. Contains several tributes to J.C. Maxwell.

Miscellaneous photographs of or including J.C. Maxwell. National Health Service card of J.C. Maxwell, 1956.

O.U.D.S. programme for "Epicoene or The Silent Woman" by Ben Jonson, 1948 (with John Schlesinger [Balliol Hil. 1948-50, Hon. Fellow, 1981] as "Tom Otter" and Robert Hardy as "Sir Amorous LaFoole").

1.1 ALS from Norman Ault, 1948.

2.1 ALS from Cyril Bailey [?], 1951.

3.1 ALS from F.W. Bateson, 1951 [?], 1 APS from F.W. Bateson, 1966.

4.1 TLS from Fredson Bowers, 1953.

5.2 ALS from C.E. Carrington, 1970.

6.1 TLS, 1 APS from John Carter, 1963.

7.2 APS from R.W. Chapman, 1951, 2 ALS from R.W. Chapman, 1954.

8.1 TLS from Robert Conquest, 1965.

9.1 ALS, 2 TLS from John Crow, n.d. [one letter is postmarked 1957].

10.1 ALS from Helen Darbishire, 1957.

11.1 TLS from Donald Davie, 1955.

12.3 ALS from H.V.D. Dyson, 1966-70.

13.1 ALS from Leon Edel, 1953, 1 TLS from Leon Edel, 1972.

14.2 ALS from William Empson, 1954.

15.2 TLS from Geoffrey Faber, 1959.

16.1 TLS from Levi Fox [signed in his absence by "S.M.W."], 1957.

17.1 TLS from John Frazer, 1955.

18.1 TLS from "Ted" [?], 1957.

19.5 ALS from Helen Gardner, 1952-65.

20.1 ALS from F.F. Giles, 1958.

21.10 ALS from W.W. Greg, 1949-56.

22.1 letter signed "for John Heath-Stubbs," n.d.

23.5 ALS from Humphrey House, 1948-54.

24.2 ALS from G. Wilson Knight, 1958.

25.17 ALS from F.R. Leavis, 1954-65.

26.1 APS from Q.D. Leavis, 1950, 7 ALS from Q.D. Leavis, 1956-74.

27.1 APS from John Lehmann, 1962.

28.1 TLS from Bernard Levin, 1973.

29.1 ALS from C.S. Lewis, 1960.

30.1 APS from J.C. Maxwell to Mrs. David Maxwell, 1932.

31.1 TLS from James Michie, 1956.

32.1 ALS from George Mill, 1948.

33.1 ALS from Charles Richard Morris (Fellow 1922), 1938.

34.2 TLS from (Charles) Raymond (Bell) Mortimer (Balliol 1904-07), 1967-73.

35.1 ALS from Tom Murphy, 1970.

36.1 ALS from John Middleton Murry, 1954.

37.1 TLS from Hon. Sir Harold G. Nicolson (Balliol 1904-07, Hon. Fellow 1955), 1949.

38.1 TLS from T.N. Paulin, 1972.

39.1 TLS from Frederick A. Pottle, 1952.

40.3 TLS from Anthony Dymoke Powell (Balliol 1923-26, Hon. Fellow 1974), 1958-76.

41.1 ALS from Prof. H.A. Prichard, n.d., 1 AL from Prof. H.A. Prichard, 1937. 2 ALS from J.C. Maxwell to Prof. H.A. Prichard, 1937.

42.1 APS from Christopher Bruce Ricks (Balliol 1953-57, Fellow 1957), n.d. [postmarked 1958].

43.1 ALS from Maurice Roy Ridley (Balliol 1909-13, Fellow 1920), 1952, 2 TLS from Maurice Roy Ridley, 1951.

44.1 ALS from A.L. Rowse, 1971.

45.1 TLS from Patricia Siddall, 1961.

46.1 ALS from E.M.W. Tillyard, 1946.

47.1 TLS from Philip Toynbee, 1971.

48.1 TLS from William Trevor, 1970.

49.1 ALS from Hugh Trevor-Roper, 1953.

50.1 TLS from John Wain, 1971.

51.1 TLS from Alice Walker, 1954.

52.1 APS from Angus Wilson, n.d. [postmarked 1970].

53.29 ALS from the Shakespeare scholar John Dover Wilson, 1952-61, 38 TLS from John Dover Wilson, 1956-65, 11 APS from John Dover Wilson, 1952-61. 4 TL signed "pp. John Dover Wilson," 1967-69. 2 TLS from C.A.M. Sym [writing on behalf of John Dover Wilson], 1963-66. 1 TLS from John Dover Wilson to Mr. Becher, 1957. 1 AL [copy] from J.C. Maxwell to John Dover Wilson, 1954.

54.15 ALS from Prof. F.P. Wilson, 1951-63, 1 TLS from Prof. F.P. Wilson, 1954, 3 APS from Prof. F.P. Wilson, 1954-61.

55.TL from Leonard Woolf [dictated by Leonard Woolf but not signed by him], 1953.



94 ALS from Charles Graham Stone (Balliol 1905-10, Fellow 1914), 1938-56 [Many of these letters are written over a period of several days and run to more than four sheets of paper]. 1 APS from Charles Graham Stone, 1952.


8 notebooks (two without card covers):

1.Expenditure on books 1945-59. Detailed list of books purchased together with the price of each book and a symbol to indicate those books subsequently resold.

2.Expenditure on books 1962-73. Detailed list of books purchased together with the price of each book. Notes on philosophy/classics at the beginning of the notebook.

3.Notes on books and films (probably for J.C. Maxwell's private use), 1942-45. Written on the cover, "Log of reading."

4.Diary 1948 (one page). Notes on Latin authors. Written on the cover, "Last. Epigraphical Evidence. Syme The Ann." [?].

5.Classics notes, n.d.

6.Notes on Titus Andronicus, n.d. [c. 1950]. Written on cover, "Titus Andronicus Introduction."

7.Notes on Kant, n.d. Written on inside front cover, "A.H. Smith: Kant."

8.Classics/English lit. notes, n.d. Written on cover, "F.P. Wilson. Nichol Smith. Tacitus: Annals."


Copies and offprints of short articles by J.C. Maxwell (many for Notes and Queries), 1944-70. Miscellaneous correspondence, including:

1.2 ALS from Colin Clarke, n.d. [1940s?].

2.1 ALS from Sir Kenneth James Dover (Balliol 1938-40, 1945-Mich. 1947. Hon. Fellow 1977), n.d. [with offprint from Eranos, Vol. LI].

3.1 TLS from A.J.P. Woodhouse, 1948.

4.1 TLS [copy] from J.C. Maxwell to the editor of the TLS, 1951.

5.1 ALS from Leo Kirschbaum [?], n.d.

6.1 ALS from Helmut Viebrock, 1959.

7.1 ALS from Mary Lasalle [?], n.d.

8.1 ALS from Donald Frank William Ford (Balliol 1945-48), n.d.

9.1 APS from "W.G.M.", 1955.

10.1 TLS from Roger [?Lonsdale], 1969.

11.1 TLS from Ernest Sirluck [?], 1954.

12.1 ALS [on card] from J.I.M. Stewart, 1956.

13.1 ALS from W.W. Greg, 1947.


Notes for lectures and articles. The titles listed here are those written on the front of each folder (probably by Roger Lonsdale).

1."Revenge Tragedy."

2."Misc. Literary notes/Lectures/Drafts/Crashaw/C18th." Including: 1 ALS from J.C. Maxwell to "Davis," 1956 [?]. 1 ALS from W.G. Maclagen [?], 1950. 2 TLS from L.C. Martin, 1949.

3."Shakespearean Criticism."

4."Problem Plays."

5."Shakespeare History Plays."

6."Roman Plays."

7."Shakespearean Comedy."

8."Misc. Shakespeare and Marlowe." Including: 1 ALS from F.P. Wilson, 1961. 1 ALS from R. Alexander, 1957. 1 ALS from J.C. Maxwell to G. Dover Wilson, 1952. 1 ALS from L.C. Knight, 1949. 1 TLS from John Wilders, 1963.


Notes for lectures and articles. The titles listed here are those written on the front of each folder.

1."Victorian Fiction."

2."Scott (and Hogg)."

3."Twain/H. James."

4."Hardy: Poetry."

5."Arnold and Clough."


7."Tennyson and Browning."

8."Shelley and Keats."

9."Wordsworth." Including: 2 TLS from Kathleen Coburn, 1958-61.


Notes for lectures and articles. The titles listed here are again those written on the front of each folder.

1."American Literature."

2."Lecture Notes" (i.e. of lectures heard, primarily). 1 APS from "R.C.", 1953.

3."Hawthorne and Melville."

4."Edwardian Novel."

5."Lectures: Novels of 1880s."


7."Vanity Fair."



4 folders containing miscellaneous material by or relating to J.C. Maxwell.

1."J.C.M." [probably a folder originally created by Roger Lonsdale and later added to the Maxwell papers]:

1 TLS [copy] from John Edward Christopher Hill (Balliol 1931-34, Master 1965) to Prof. W.J.M. Mackenzie, 1976.

1 ALS to Roger [Lonsdale] from Helen Gardner, n.d. [with a note on J.C. Maxwell for Notes and Queries].

Several reminiscences of J.C. Maxwell written after his death in 1976.

13 ALS from J.C. Maxwell to Dr. L.M. Arinshtein, 1968-73.

1 ALS from Prof. John [Carey] to Roger [Lonsdale], 1976 [with a photograph (1963) which includes J.C. Maxwell)].

2.Photographs. Several photographs of or including J.C. Maxwell, 1958-67. Including a document in Greek [visa?] dated 1938 and a photograph of an unidentified man and woman from the nineteenth century. 1 ALS, 1 APS from Prof. John Carey to Roger Lonsdale, 1976.

3.Folder, labelled: "Arnold Collection? Maxwell was to have edited a volume on Matthew Arnold for Penguin Critical Anthologies, a series subsequently abandoned. This file evidently contains a draft introduction, draft lists of contents, offprints and xeroxes of some pieces, and correspondence with certain critics (including F.R. Leavis, C.B. Ricks and G. Wilson Knight)."

Includes: 5 ALS, 1 TLS from C.B. Ricks, 1970-71. 1 ALS from John Curgenven, 1971. 1 ALS from F.R. Leavis, 1971. 3 ALS, 1 APS from G. Wilson Knight, 1969-71. 1 ALS from Geoffrey Carnall, 1969. 2 TLS from George Watson, 1969. 1 TLS from John D. Jump, 1969.

4.Group of short articles by J.C. Maxwell, 1964-76 (mostly from the 1970s).

Contents of boxes 1-8 listed by James Armstrong, Modern Manuscripts Assistant 1990-91. 14 April 1991.

SECTION 9 (cabinet):

1. Label on the drawer: "16[?]".

Notes on:Scott.

Mrs S.R. Whitehead and her novels.

Small news cutting on the thirty-hour week (n.d.).

Notes on:Thackeray.

Jane Eyre .

George Eliot.

Bleak House (1 leaf is partly TS).

Groves of Academe [a novel by Mary McCarthy], and on "McCarthy". Vanity Fair.

Judith Hearne [a novel by Brian Moore].

2. Label on the drawer: "Hist. Crit."

Notes on:Richards (author of Principles of Literary Criticism [1924]). Dickens: Great Expectations.

"Lit. Crit: after Ar[istotle]".

Hist. Crit. (various).


Hist. Crit., including Phaedrus.

Plato's Ion.

1 leaf of notes on Shakespeare [?], written on the back of a TS discussing Leopardi.

Julius Caesar .

News cuttings:A poem, "The Intruders" by Richard Church ( T.L.S. 28.1.55).

Article about Wyndham Lewis by T.S. Eliot, Sunday Times March 10 1957.

A poem, "The Double Edge", by Anthony Thwaite ( T.L.S. 29.1.55).

Review of R.W. Southern's The Making of the Middle Ages (8.5.53).

Article on C.J. Sisson's new edition of Shakespeare, from The Bookseller of March 27th 1954.

Notes on: "Sh[elley] and Science".

" Beowulf - Historical Background", and James' Notebooks and his Wings [of the Dove].

Goody [?], Blake and Wordsworth.


Washington Square .

Hazlitt: Spirit of the Age.


Troilus and Cressida .

Peacock: Nightmare Abbey.

To the Lighthouse .

"Lit. Crit."; "Hist. Crit."; "Hist. Crit: Aristotle".

"Hist. Crit. Ren[aissance]".

"Hist. Crit. Eng".

"Crit. after Arnold".


3.Label on the drawer: C19.

Notes on:Meredith.

Pippa Passes [Browning].

"Victorian Lit."


Keats' Hyperion.

James, including some on Portrait of a Lady.



James' Spoils [of Poynton].

Notes, made on cards, on various sources etc.

News cutting: on Carl H. Pforzheimer's work on Shelley, and on Shelley and his Circle, ed. K.N. Cameron (from the T.L.S. October 2 1961).

4.Label on the drawer: "Eliz. Lit."

Notes on:Milton's Comus.

Milton's Lycidas.

Paradise Lost .

Paradise Regain'd . (Parts of these notes are written on the back of a TS which is apparently for the edition of Shakespeare's Cymbeline which Maxwell prepared).

Samson Agonistes .

"Milton: Allegro [?] + Pens." [i.e. L'Allegro and Il Penseroso?]. "Milton: Nat. Ode [?]" [i.e., On the Morning of Christ's Nativity?].





Donne (some of these notes are written on the back of a TS version of the introduction to Maxwell's edition of Cymbeline).


C 17 Poetry.

Renaissance, and "Renaiss. in England".


Notes (on Caxton), written on the back of a letter to J.C. Maxwell from Peter Wait, of Methuen Publishers, about Maxwell's edition of Titus, dated 3rd March 1950.









Castiglione and Hoby.

Wyatt and Surrey.

Mirror for Magistrates .


Euphues .



Faerie Queene , and Spenser.

5.Notes on: Bleak House, and Dickens.

TSS: Outlines of Bleak House; chronologies of the writing of Bleak House.

Notes for a series of lectures on "Novels in 50s [?]".

Notes on: "Historical Novel".


Bleak House .

Passages (untitled) on aspects of Victorian life, including speed of change.

6.Notes on: Macbeth.

K[ing] J[ohn] and T[roublesome] R[eigne].

T[roilus and] C[ressida] .

King John .

Cymbeline .

A[s] Y[ou] L[ike It] + T[welfth] N[ight].

As You Like It .

Twelfth Night .

"Sh[akespeare] and Religion".

"Shakespeare: Sources", some of which is written on part of a TS on "Greene and Pliny".

"Comedy", and "Tragicomedy".

R + J Staging Problems.

Hamlet .

Tempest .

Rape of Lucrece .

K[ing] J[ohn] .

Winter's Tale .

" Lear: Text".

Cymbeline .

" Romeo and Juliet: Staging".

Titus .

Hamlet .

Shakespeare, and "Shakespeare: Stages of Career".

"Shakespeare: Last Plays".

Othello .

Lear .

Timon .

Macbeth .

"Last Plays".

Winter's Tale .


Shakespeare and Lyly.

"Sh's early career".


Lear , and Othello.

"Sh. Texts".

Romeo and Juliet , including its date.

Hamlet .

Othello .

Winter's Tale .

Tempest .

Merchant .

Much Ado .

Card index cards: Various notes, including some on sources.

Contents of section 9 listed by Rachel Kemsley, Modern Manuscripts Assistant 1994-5.

- James Armstrong, 1991, and Rachel Kemsley, 1994-5

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