The Lewis Walpole Library Digital Collections make selected texts and images from the library’s collections freely available over the internet.
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The electronic version of The Yale Edition of Horace Walpole’s Correspondence (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1937-1983) provides free online access to all 48 volumes of W.S. Lewis’s scholarly edition of the correspondence of Horace Walpole (1717-1797), youngest son of Sir Robert Walpole, England’s first Prime Minister. Each page has been scanned and run through OCR (Optical Character Recognition) processing to enable scholars to browse the scanned pages as well as search the text for keywords. In addition, users may browse indexes created from the OCR text, including indexes by date of correspondence and by name of correspondent as well as indexes to the illustrations and appendices.
The Lewis Walpole Library Digital Collections presents images of visual materials from library’s collection. The majority of the library’s world-renowned collection of English caricatures and political satirical prints from the late-seventeenth through the mid-nineteenth centuries are presented in the Digital Collections, including works by Gillray, Rowlandson, Woodward, Bunbury, and Newton, among others as well as the Library’s extraordinary collection of works by William Hogarth.
Prints, drawings, and watercolors related to Horace Walpole’s collection and house at Strawberry Hill are also represented, including several extra-illustrated editions of Walpole’s Description of the Villa, once owned by William Bawtree, Richard Bull, Thomas Kirgate, and Walpole himself as well as other volumes formerly in Walpole’s library such as his A Collection of Prints Engraved by Various Persons of Quality, and albums of drawings by his friends Richard Bentley and John Chute, as well as an Album of Drawings with natural history illustrations by Maria Sybilla Merian. Also included are selected portraits, topographical views, scrapbooks, and ephemera such as trade cards, advertisements, invitations, and bookplates, ballads and broadsides, as well as many playbills from London and regional British theatres. Increasingly, the Digital Collections includes manuscript volumes digitized in their entirety.
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The database will include a record of all of the art and artifacts from Horace Walpole’s collections, some of which are now in the Lewis Walpole Library’s collections. Images, descriptions, provenance information as well as the former locations of the pieces within Strawberry Hill are included.
Horace Walpole’s Strawberry Hill Collection was initially developed by the Lewis Walpole Library to support research for the exhibition Horace Walpole’s Strawberry Hill and for the renovation of the house itself, undertaken by the Strawberry Hill Trust. Dispersed since the famous sale in 1842, Walpole’s collection was one of the most significant in eighteenth-century Britain, numbering several thousand items. This database encompasses the entire range of art and artifacts from Walpole’s collections, including all items whose location is currently known and those as yet untraced but known through a variety of historical records. This information is now made available for public access.
Plans are in place to digitize and add more materials on an ongoing basis.