Sir Richmond Campbell Shakespear (1812-1861): His Life and Papers

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Note by Dr. Omar Shakespear Pound of Princeton University who during two visits to London (1988 and 1990) gave freely of his valuable time to the classification and filing of the Society's Shakespear papers.

SIR RICHMOND CAMPBELL SHAKESPEAR was born in India on 11 May, 1812. His father was John Talbot Shakespear (1783-1825) of the Bengal Civil Service; his mother, Emily Thackeray, eldest daughter of William Makepeace Thackeray, also of the B.C.S. and father of the novelist. The Shakespears had a long tradition of military and civil service in India, Afghanistan, Burma, and later in Kuwait where Captain W.H.I. Shakespear was Political Agent until his death in 1915. originally they came from a family of ropemakers in Shadwell, east of the
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When I first looked at these papers in 1986 many were still damp, and this past summer (1990) basic conservation was my primary concern. The manuscripts, documents and letters have now all been put in separate folders - free from contagion and seepage. Their condition varies considerably - some were obviously inherited by the Royal Central Asian Society in deplorable condition, others are fair. It should be noted that the collection contains many copies of original letters, and even though made many years ago, the copies are usually more legible, less fragile and easier to work with than the originals. Considering the vicissitudes the papers have been through, it is astonishing how much has survived and the high percentage that a scholar can still use.

In working with these papers I concentrated on sorting and dating the letters - preparing them for others to use. Each letter is now in a separate folder, about 95% dated to the day. It is quite clear that Col. John Shakespear, Sir Richmond's youngest son, went through these letters carefully, annotating lightly in pencil here and there, probably sometime after World War I while preparing what is affectionately known in my family as the "Studbook ", namely, John Shakespear of Shadwell and His Descendants (1619-1931), published privately for Col. John Shakespear by the Northumberland Press, Newcastle Upon Tyne in 1931. I have used some of his datings in