Finding Number (Click this to view full catalogue structure)US7
TitleUniversity of Birmingham Staff Papers: Papers of John Churton Collins
Extent4 volumes
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DescriptionFour notebooks, c1863-1887, which cover the time Collins spent at school and University, and the beginning of his career. One volume (US7/1) is a diary written in 1863, when Collins was at school [King Edward the Sixth] in Birmingham. Two of the volumes (US7/2 and US7/3) are commonplace books containing Collins' notes and observations on his reading. These are undated but appear to derive from a similar period to the school diary. US7/4 contains notes from Collins' time at university in Oxford, c1871-1872, with intermittent diary entries from 1871-1872 and 1884-1887.

Much of the content of the notebooks concerns Collins' literary interests and activities; the commonplace books and notes made at Oxford document the thoughts and reading habits of an aspiring writer and literary scholar, and the diary entries often focus on Collins' progress with his studies and writing. The diaries also provide information about Collins' emotional life and state of mind. The early diary entries reflect his enthusiasm for poetry and commitment to literary study, as well as giving an insight into his interactions with tutors and other pupils. In the few diary entries written at Oxford Collins records events of personal significance, such as finishing his degree. The sporadic entries from the 1880s document Collins' struggle with depression.
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Administrative HistoryJohn Churton Collins (1848-1908) author and professor of English was educated at the Grammar School of King Edward the Sixth (Birmingham, England), and Balliol College, Oxford where he obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1872. Collins was greatly interested in literature in his youth; he coached London candidates for civil service examinations from 1873, and wrote for the press and magazines; made friends with Swinburne, edited Cyril Tourneur's works, 1878; and Lord Herbert of Cherbury's poems, 1881. He was a contributor to the Quarterly Review from October 1878, and many of his articles there were republished independently. Collins was a successful lecturer for Oxford and London university extension from 1880. He long agitated with good ultimate effect for academic recognition of English literature at Oxford; urged his views in The Study of English Literature, 1891 and in periodicals, an outspoken critic of current literature in Saturday Review, 1894-1906; collected essays in Ephemera Critica, 1901, Studies in Shakespeare, 1904, Studies in Poetry and Criticism, 1905, and Voltaire, Montesquieu, and Rousseau in England, 1905. Collins was professor of English at University of Birmingham, 1904-1908. He received an honorary Litt.D. from Durham University in 1905; was a zealous amateur student of criminology; and a brilliant conversationalist. He drowned at Oulton Broad near Lowestoft, Suffolk.

Reference: The Concise Dictionary of National Biography Part 2, 1901-1950 (Oxford, 1967).

For further reading about the University of Birmingham see: Eric Ives, Diane Drummond, Leonard Schwarz The First Civic University: Birmingham 1880-1980 An Introductory History (The University of Birmingham Press. 2000).
Related MaterialCadbury Research Library also holds:

Several letters relating to Collins in a large artificial collection of correspondence entitled Letters Additional (see finding numbers: LAdd/27, LAdd/30-LAdd/33, LAdd/3082-3087, LAdd/5476, LAdd/6395, and LAdd/6403). The collection also includes a translation from Virgil's Georgics attributed to Collins (LAdd/199)

Commonplace book belonging to Collins' wife, Pauline Strangways (finding number: MS495)

Archives of the University of Birmingham and archives of other former staff, officials and students.