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Bloomsbury Project

Bloomsbury and the Bloomsbury Project

Bloomsbury People

What is the Bloomsbury Project?

The Leverhulme-funded UCL Bloomsbury Project was established to investigate 19th-century Bloomsbury’s development from swampy rubbish-dump to centre of intellectual life

Led by Professor Rosemary Ashton, with Dr Deborah Colville as Researcher, the Project has traced the origins, Bloomsbury locations, and reforming significance of hundreds of progressive and innovative institutions

Many of the extensive archival resources relating to these institutions have also been identified and examined by the Project, and Bloomsbury’s developing streets and squares have been mapped and described

This website is a gateway to the information gathered and edited by Project members during the Project’s lifetime, 1 October 2007–30 April 2011, with the co-operation of Bloomsbury’s institutions, societies, and local residents

Thomas Campbell (1777–1844)

a summary of his Bloomsbury connections

He was a well-known London literary figure when he proposed the idea for a London University to Brougham, Goldsmid, and other friends in 1824–1825

He was editor of the New Monthly Magazine and still famous for his youthful poem, The Pleasures of Hope, published in 1799, which expressed his sympathy with political reform, and in particular the anti-slavery movement, in rather trite rhyming couplets

He was one of many Scots involved in the founding of the University of London (later University College London) and brought to bear his experience of the Scottish university system, notably the custom for students to live at home and the wider curriculum than that operating at the two English universities, as well as the freedom from religious tests which excluded non-Anglicans from graduating at Oxford and Cambridge

Campbell had also visited Bonn in 1820, and was impressed by the university system there, particularly by the religious tolerance and the scholarly standards

In September 1825 he went to Berlin with the specific intention of studying the organisation of the University in preparation for setting up the new institution in London (H. Hale Bellot, University College London 1826–1926, 1929)

He was not a good public speaker and was soon eclipsed by the energy and showmanship of Brougham; he also missed the foundation stone-laying on 30 April 1827, as he was in Glasgow performing his duties as Lord Rector of Glasgow University

At the foundation dinner and in press reports Brougham and George Birkbeck were given credit for the idea of founding the University (H. Hale Bellot, University College London 1826–1926, 1929)

Campbell withdrew from the University of London Council before the opening of the institution

He wrote to the newly-appointed Warden of the University, Leonard Horner, on 21 January 1828, regretfully resigning on account of “the state of my health & affairs” (College Correspondence: 1828–1830 Professors, UCL Special Collections)

He was busy with his Glasgow post and his editorship of the New Monthly Magazine; he was suffering from ill health, and his wife died in May 1828

Campbell played no further part in the life of the new University, but his participation had been vital, as he brought his friend Isaac Goldsmid, whose daughter Anna Maria Goldsmid Campbell tutored, to the table

He was also reputed to have stopped the University becoming a dissenting university, as was desired by some of the Nonconformists in the group which met to make plans:

Lord Brougham, for political reasons, was for giving in, but Campbell put his foot down strongly, and the College came out ultimately what it is – an absolutely open one” (Professor G. Vivian Poore, The History of University College, oration delivered 14 June 1897, College Collection: A20 POO, UCL Special Collections; and see H. Hale Bellot, University College London 1826–1926, 1929)

For more general biographical information about Thomas Campbell, see his entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

This page last modified 7 April, 2011 by Deborah Colville


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