AIM25 : Click here to go back to the AIM25 homepage
Archives in London and the M25 area

SKEAT, Reverend Walter William (1835-1912)

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0100 KCLCA Skeat
Held at: King's College London College Archives
  Click here to find out how to view this collection at ›
Full title: SKEAT, Reverend Walter William (1835-1912)
Date(s): 1772, 1868-1932
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: 9 boxes
Name of creator(s): Skeat | Walter William | 1835-1912 | Professor of Anglo-Saxon | philologist | Anglican clergyman


Administrative/Biographical history:

Born in London, 1835; educated at King's College School (where the Anglo-Saxon scholar Thomas Oswald Cockayne was his form-master) and Highgate School; entered Christ's College, Cambridge, 1854; studied theology and mathematics; took the mathematical tripos (fourteenth wrangler), 1858; elected a fellow of Christ's College, 1860; took orders, 1860; curate of East Dereham, Norfolk, 1860; curate of Godalming, but illness ended his career in the church; returned to Cambridge and was appointed lecturer in mathematics, Christ's College, 1864; Fellow of Christ's College; began the serious study of Early English; following the foundation of the Early English Text Society (1864) by Frederick James Furnivall and Richard Morris, Skeat produced editions of texts; founder and president of the English Dialect Society, 1873-1896; elected to the new Elrington and Bosworth professorship of Anglo-Saxon, Cambridge, 1878; in his later years, pursued the systematic study of place-names; Fellow of the British Academy; died in Cambridge, 1912. Publications (as editor and author): Songs and Ballads of Uhland (1864); Lancelot of the Laik (1865); Parallel Extracts from MSS of Piers Plowman (1866); Romance of Partenay (1866); A Tale of Ludlow Castle (1866); Langland's Piers Plowman (in four parts, 1867-1884); Pierce the Plowman's Creed (1867, new edition 1906); William of Palerne (1867); The Lay of Havelok (1868, new edition 1902); A Moeso-Gothic Glossary (1868); Piers Plowman, Prologue and Passus I-VII (1869, 1874, 1879, 1886, 1889, 1891, etc); John Barbour's The Bruce (in four parts, 1870-1889; another edition, Scottish Text Society, 1893-1895); Joseph of Arimathæa (1871); Chatterton's Poems (2 volumes, 1871, 1890); Specimens of English from 1394 to 1597 (1871, 1879, 1880, 1887, 1890, etc); The four Gospels, in Anglo-Saxon and Northumbrian (1871-1887); in conjunction with Dr Morris, Specimens of Early English from 1298 to 1393 (1872, 1873, 1894, etc); Chaucer's Treatise on the Astrolabe (1872); Questions in English Literature (1873, 1887); Seven Reprinted Glossaries (1873); Chaucer, The Prioress's Tale, etc (1874, 1877, 1880, 1888, 1891, etc); Seven (other) Reprinted Glossaries (1874); Ray's Collection of English Words not generally used, with rearrangements (1874); Fletcher's The Two Noble Kinsmen (1875); Shakespeare's Plutarch (1875); Five Original Provincial Glossaries (1876); A List of English Words, compared with Icelandic (1876); Chaucer, The Man of Lawes Tale, etc (1877, 1879, 1889, etc); with J H Nodal, Bibliographical List of Works in English Dialects (1873-1877); Alexander and Dindymus (1878); Wycliffe's New Testament (1879); Five Reprinted Glossaries (1879); Specimens of English Dialects (1879); Wycliffe's Job, Psalms, etc (1881); Ælfric's Lives of Saints (in four parts, 1881-1900); The Gospel of St Mark in Gothic (1882); Edwin Guest, History of English Rhythms (new edition by Skeat,1882); Fitzherbert's Book of Husbandry (1882); An Etymological Dictionary of the English Language (in four parts, 1879-1882, 2nd edition, 1884, 3rd edition, 1898, 4th edition, 1910); A Concise Etymological Dictionary of the English Language (1882, 1885, 1887, 1890; new editions (rewritten), 1901, 1911); The Tale of Gamelyn (1884); The Kingis Quair (1884); The Wars of Alexander (1886); Principles of English Etymology, First Series (1887, 1892); in conjunction with A L Mayhe, A Concise Dictionary of Middle English (1888); Chaucer, The Minor Poems (1888, 1896); Chaucer, The Legend of Good Women (1889); Principles of English Etymology, Second Series (1891); Chaucer, Prologue to the Canterbury Tales (1891, 1895); A Primer of English Etymology (1892, 1895); Twelve Facsimiles of Old English Manuscripts (1892); Chaucer, House of Fame (1893); Complete Works of Geoffrey Chaucer (6 volumes, 1894); The Student's Chaucer (1895); Nine Specimens of English Dialects (1895); Two Collections of Derbycisms, by S Pegge (1896); A Student's Pastime (1896) (Skeat's autobiography); Chaucerian Pieces (volume vii of Chaucer's Works) (1897); The Chaucer Canon (1900); Notes on English Etymology (1901); The Place-names of Cambridgeshire (1901); The Place-names of Huntingdonshire (1903); The Place-names of Hertfordshire (1904); A Primer of Classical and English Philology (1905); The Place-names of Bedfordshire (1906); The Proverbs of Alfred (1907); Chaucer's Poems in Modern English (6 volumes, 1904-1908); Piers the Plowman in Modern English (1905); Early English Proverbs (1910); The Place-names of Berkshire (1911); contributions to the Philological Society's Transactions.


Scope and content/abstract:

Papers, 1868-1932, of and concerning Walter William Skeat, including correspondence relating to the English Dialect Society, 1887-1912, letters to Skeat, 1868-1912, fragments of letters and drafts of letters by Skeat, 1873-1905, and correspondence of the Skeat family, 1914-1928. The bulk of the collection comprises working papers, almost all undated, including notes and transcripts of various manuscripts and texts, sometimes unattributed but among them Beowulf, The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer, Piers Plowman by William Langland, Bodleian manuscripts, works of William Shakespeare, homilies, and proverbs; bibliographical references; dictionaries, thesauri, word lists, glossaries; notes on etymology, grammar, place-names, and pronunciation; lectures including 'The Language of Chaucer'; articles including philology, the language of Edmund Spenser with special reference to his Faerie Queen, emendations in Piers Plowman, and phonetics; proofs (largely undated) including an English dictionary, publications relating to Chaucer, The Kingis Quair, Pierce the Plowman's Crede, and an incomplete proof copy of The Seven Sleepers; printed material by Skeat including William of Palerne (unbound, uncut), 'Souvent me Souvient' (reprinted from Christ's College Magazine), Troilus and Criseyde (incomplete) and A Charter of Canute (a passage from the York Gospels, edited by Skeat); printed material relating to Skeat's interests, including articles on etymology and the derivation of words; leaflets (1911) advertising the proposed University of London Institute of Phonetics; an incomplete copy of The Annual Register 1771 (1772); and an examination questions paper (1911) in English Language and Literature for King's College, University of London.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:
English, Middle English, Early English, Anglo-Saxon, Latin, Greek

System of arrangement:

The material has been arranged in the following sections: correspondence; notes, notebooks, transcriptions; unpublished lectures, sermons, articles and notes; proofs; printed material.

Conditions governing access:

Open, subject to signature of reader's undertaking form.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copies, subject to the condition of the original, may be supplied for research use only. Requests to publish original material should be submitted to the Director of Archive Services, King's College London.

Finding aids:

Manuscript list available in reading room at King's College London Archives.

Archival Information

Archival history:

Skeat's papers were formerly stored at King's College London Library with those of Frederick James Furnivall, and some attempt was made to integrate the collections thematically. Since transfer to King's College Archives individual provenances have largely been re-established, but some material remains unattributed.

Immediate source of acquisition:

The papers were given to King's College with Skeat's library (1913).

Allied Materials

Related material:

King's College Library, Special Collections, holds the Skeat and Furnivall collection, which comprises annotated books on English language and literature from the libraries of Skeat and of Frederick James Furnivall. King's College London Archives also holds papers of the philologist Frederick James Furnivall (Ref: Furnivall), who was an associate of Skeat.

Oxford University, Bodleian Library, Department of Western Manuscripts, holds correspondence, 1875-1886, between Skeat and Thomas Hallam (Ref: MS Eng lang f 37) and letters, 1890-1895, to A S Napier (Ref: MS Eng lett d 79). Oxford University, Museum of the History of Science, holds correspondence, 1894-1895, relating to the English Dialect Dictionary. Oxford University, Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, holds notes, papers and pamphlet collection, c1899 (Ref: Skeat Collection). King's College Archive Centre, Cambridge, holds 27 letters, 1877-1900, from Skeat and his son, Walter, to Oscar Browning (Ref: OB). British Library, Manuscript Collections, holds Skeat's correspondence, 1864-1890 and undated, with Macmillan and Co (Ref: Add MS 55016). University College London Special Collections holds 15 letters, 1883-1885, to Karl Pearson (Ref: Pearson papers). Manchester University, John Rylands Library, holds nine letters, 1883-1891, to J H Nodal (Ref: JHN 1/107). Lincolnshire Archives holds letters, 1886-1902, from Skeat to R W Goulding of Louth (Ref: Goulding 3/D/180).

National Register of Archives: Click here to view NRA record

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Compiled by Rachel Kemsley as part of the RSLP AIM25 project. Sources: brief description in King's College London Manuscripts and Private Papers: A Select Guide (1982); Dictionary of National Biography; Who's Who; National Register of Archives; King's College Library online catalogue.

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
Jan 2001

Related Subject Search

* To search for other records with similar subjects, tick any subjects above then click "Run New Search"

Related Personal Name Search

* To search for other records with similar names, tick any names above then click "Run New Search"

Related Corporate Name Search

* To search for other records with similar names, tick any names above then click "Run New Search"