Finding Number (Click this to view full catalogue structure)JPC
TitleJohn Payne Collection
Extent9 boxes
DescriptionThis collection includes original verse by John Payne and some of his translations. There are also corrected proofs and bound and unbound copies of his printed works; a few leaves of poems published in journals as well as copies of the Villon Society's publicity material for John Payne's work. Also included in the collection is a notebook belonging to Payne's sister, Annie Harriette, later Mrs Mostyn Pritchard (d 1917); correspondence involving her sons, Owen and Hugh Mostyn Pritchard; and autograph verse by Owen Mostyn Pritchard.

The collection comprises letters from John Payne probably intended for publication in newspapers or journals; letters concerning John Payne's writings, 1896 and 1906; letters to and from Owen Mostyn Pritchard, 1898; John Payne's literary manuscripts and proof copies of his works; Owen Mostyn Pritchard's literary manuscripts, 1890-1892; other manuscript material; printed works by John Payne; printed material relating to the Villon Society; and other printed works.
ArrangementThe collection is arranged in the following series: letters; manuscripts and galleyproofs; printed works
Access ConditionsAccess to all registered researchers
Finding AidsA catalogue of this collection is available on the online archive catalogue. Click on the Finding Number to display the summary contents list of the catalogue and to view the full catalogue. A paper copy is also available in the Cadbury Research Library: Special Collections Department.
Access StatusOpen
Administrative HistoryJohn Payne (1842-1916), a poet, was much admired in the late 19th and early 20th centuries both for his original verse and for his translations of Arabic and Persian narratives. Payne was born in 1842 and lived for most of his life in London, where he worked as a solicitor. From 1866 onwards, he moved in artistic and literary circles, meeting some of the Pre-Raphaelites, Arthur Shaugnessy, Swinburne, Catulle Mende, Anatole France, Richard Burton and others. Payne's remarkable aptitude for language enabled him to translate French, Italian, Turkish, Arabic and Persian prose and verse. He never married and in later life became a recluse, dying on 15 February 1916.

References: Thomas Wright, 'The Life of Thomas Payne (1919); B. I. Evans, 'English Poetry in the Later Nineteenth Century (1933)
Custodial HistoryThe letters, manuscripts and printed material which form the John Payne Collection were found among the Masterman Papers (reference: CFGM). The John Payne papers were not separately identified in the first listing of the Masterman Papers (1987) and their significance only became evident during a re-examination and more detailed listing of the Masterman Papers in 1996.

No evidence has been found in the Masterman Papers as to how or when the Masterman family acquired the Payne material. Charles Masterman and Payne shared an admiration for the writings of Swinburne and Rossetti and, it is likely, that as a young man Charles would have read Payne's original poems and translations. Since the John Payne Collection includes not only Payne's own manuscripts but also some papers of his sister, Annie Mostyn Pritchard and her sons, it is probable that the collection was acquired after the deaths of both John Payne and Annie Mostyn Pritchard, possibly from Payne's biographer, Thomas Wright. The only definite link between Payne and Masterman is Masterman's article on John Payne which appeared in the Supplement to 'The Nation', 15 May 1920, pp 224 & 226 (a typescript of which is located in the Masterman Papers).
AcquisitionThese papers were purchased with the Masterman Papers by the University of Birmingham Library in 1984.
Related MaterialUniversity of Birmingham Information Services, Special Collections Department holds the Masterman Papers (GB 0150 CFGM)
Associated MaterialsMaterial relating to John Payne, comprising correspondence between Payne and Thomas Wright and other miscellaneous papers is held by the Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies (Ref: Payne mss)


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