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Austin Dobson collection

Identifier: SLC 0100

Scope and Contents

Books, largely first editions and presentation copies, as well as manuscript materials related to English poet, essayist, and biographer Austin Dobson.


  • Creation: circa 1850-1930


Language of Materials

Materials entirely in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Access is by appointment only. For more information visit:

Conditions Governing Use

Use of materials from this collection beyond the exceptions provided for in the Fair Use and Educational Use clauses of the U.S. Copyright Law may violate federal law. Permission to publish or reproduce is required from the copyright holder. Please contact Special Collections Department, University of Delaware Library,

Biographical Note

English poet, author, and civil servant (Henry) Austin Dobson (1840-1921) was one of several authors employed at the English Board of Trade in the latter half of the nineteenth century, in addition to Edmund Gosse (1849-1928), William Cosmo Monkhouse (1840-1901), and Samuel Waddington (1844-1923), who contributed to its description as a "nest of singing birds."

Dobson's tenure at the Board of Trade lasted from 1856 until his retirement in 1901, during which the majority of his work was conducted in the marine department; he was appointed a principal clerk in 1884. Dobson's literary career began in the 1860s with the publication of his poetry in various magazines, including Anthony Trollope's St. Paul's Magazine. Trollope was influential in encouraging the young poet's work, and Dobson dedicated his first volume of poetry, Vignettes in Rhyme (1873), to Trollope. Dobson's poetry, which showed a fondness for French verse forms such as the triolet and the rondeau, enjoyed a popularity that kept many of his volumes running through numerous editions.

Dobson ceased writing much new verse in the mid-1880s and turned his attention to prose work. Dobson was considered a leading authority on eighteenth-century literary and artistic figures such as Oliver Goldsmith, Horace Walpole, William Hogarth, and Henry Fielding. He authored volumes on Fielding, Hogarth, Samuel Richardson, and Goldsmith, and his reputation as a biographer and essayist led to his writing many prefaces and introductions to new volumes on these figures, as well as shorter entries for the Dictionary of National Biography (DNB). Dobson even wrote the DNB entry for his friend and Board of Trade colleague Cosmo Monkhouse.

In 1868, Dobson married Frances Mary Beardmore (d. 1927), daughter of prominent engineer Nathaniel Beardmore (1816-1872), who also wrote children's fiction under the pen name Franc Mari. The couple had ten children, all of whom survived their father.


Gwynn, S.L. Revised by Nilanjana Banerji.Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003. doi: 10.1093/ref:odnb/32845. Accessed 14 October 2011.


26 item

Metadata Rights Declarations


Books, largely first editions and presentation copies, as well as manuscript materials related to English poet, essayist, and biographer Austin Dobson.

Related Materials in This Repository

MSS 0644, Austin Dobson collection

Additional materials related to the Dobson family are found in both Special Collections and the Mark Samuels Lasner Collection. They can be accessed by searching the library catalog for the phrase "Dobson Family Collection."

Related Materials in Other Repositories

Alban Dobson donated a majority of his personal collection of Austin Dobson's books and manuscripts to the University of London Library in 1946, which was contributed to over the years by his son Christopher Dobson and other family members.

Shelving Summary

Materials are not necessarily shelved together. Use the item-level "Shelving Summary" for guidance or use the OCLC # provided with each item to search for accurate location information in DELCAT.

Processing Information

Processed by Mark Samuels Lasner Collection staff. Encoded by Jaime Margalotti.

Finding aid for Austin Dobson collection
University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
2022 June 23
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Delaware Library Special Collections Repository

181 South College Avenue
Newark DE 19717-5267 USA