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Documents of Walter Savage Landor, collected by John Forster

Call Number: MS 111


A collection of letters, poems, printed portraits, photographs, etc. Most of the collection formerly belonged to John Forster, whose definitive biography of Walter Savage Landor was published in 1869. The collection largely consists of letters addressed to Forster after the publication of the book, concerning Landor's character. Also in the collection are some other letters addressed to Forster; some original Landor material; and portraits and other materials concerned with the publication of the Forster's biography.


  • Creation: approximately 1830-1876 (bulk 1869)


Conditions Governing Access

No access restrictions

Conditions Governing Use

Spencer Library staff may determine use restrictions dependent on the physical condition of manuscript materials.

Biography of Walter Savage Landor (1775-1864)

Walter Savage Landor was born in Warwick, England, the son of Walter Landor and his second wife, Elizabeth Savage. After attending public school and receiving private tutoring, Landor attended Trinity College at Oxford University for two years. Throughout his youth he already displayed both a command and deep interest in the study of Latin translation and composition.

Landor did not finish his studies at Oxford; instead, he moved to London and began privately studying French, Italian, and Greek. His first book of poetry, The Poems of Walter Savage Landor, was published in 1795, and included fashionable imitations of famous poems, satires on university life, and political topics related to the wars between France and Great Britain. Landor's writings would return again throughout his life to political topics, imitations, and classic epigrams and idylls. Landor never really profited from his writings, instead relying on an allowance from his father and then on private income at the death of first his father in 1805 and then his mother in 1829.

Landor had an ongoing affair with Nancy Jones ("Iƶne" of many of his early poems) from meeting her on holiday in 1793 until her death sometime in or before 1806. In 1802 he met Jane Sophia Swift (the "Ianthe" of his poems); while he fell in love with her, they never married. In 1808 Landor met Romantic poet and contemporary Robert Southey (1774-1843), with whom he developed a lifelong friendship; he developed acquaintances with a wide variety of English authors and poets of the 19th century. In 1811 Landor married Julia Thuillier, with whom he had four children.

Throughout the early 19th century, Landor traveled throughout Europe, living at various points in France, Spain, and Italy. In 1835, after his marriage broke down completely, Landor moved to Bath, England, and settled there for over 20 years. By the 1840s, Landor and editor and biographer John Forster (1812-1876) met, and Forster encouraged Landor's later literary activities. He also helped Landor collect his English language works into The Works of Walter Savage Landor (1846), which met with success in both Great Britain and the United States.

Landor experimented with genre and wrote both poetry and prose works throughout his life. He would frequently return to his older works, revising and republishing. He was best known and made famous by his Imaginary Conversations (originally 2 volumes published in 1824, a third volume added in 1828), in which literary and political figures from throughout European history held prose dialogues. Other works include the poem Gebir (1798), verse drama Count Julian (1812), and shorter poems and idylls on Greek themes collected in The Hellenics (1847).

[Information retrieved from "Walter Savage Landor," Poetry Foundation,]


.25 Linear Feet (1 document case) : It is unclear as to whether A1-2 and B1, items identified as by Walter Savage Landor, are in the same hand.

Language of Materials


Physical Location

MS 111

Immediate Source of Acquisition

A1-2 and B1: Emily Driscoll; C1-C31 & D1-D13: unknown, before December 1961.

Related Materials

John Forster's book: Walter Savage Landor: A Biography. London, Chapman & Hall, 1869. Available at KU Libraries at PR4873 .F6 1869a.

For a portrait of Sophia Jane Swift, see frontispiece of T.J. [Thomas James] Wise's A Landor Library, privately published: London, 1928. Available at KU Libraries at Z8481.3 .W83 and at Spencer Research Library at Ellis Omnia D635.

Guide to the Walter Savage Landor Collection
Documents of Walter Savage Landor, collected by John Forster
Finding aid prepared by alh, April 26, 1972. Finding aid encoded by skt, 2005. Finding aid revised by mwh, 2020.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.
Finding aid permalink
Preferred citation
Documents of Walter Savage Landor, collected by John Forster, Department of Special Collections, MS 111, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas

Repository Details

Part of the University of Kansas. Kenneth Spencer Research Library Repository

1450 Poplar Lane
Lawrence KS 66045-7616 United States