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Bentham Collection

Jeremy Bentham portrait

60,000 mss and 4,500 vols

The library of works on law and moral philosophy belonging to Jeremy Bentham , philosopher (1748-1832), was given in 1833, and his papers were originally given to Sir John Bowring (1792-1872), who subsequently gave them to UCL. Together with further papers left by Bentham to Sir Edwin Chadwick (1800-1890) and some 4,000 volumes bequeathed to the Library in 1848, this was the first major collection of papers to come to UCL, and is undoubtedly one of UCL's most important possessions, forming the central core of one of the Library's major research strengths- 19th century reform in the social, educational and political spheres.
The manuscripts consist of drafts and notes for published and unpublished works, drafts of letters from Bentham and a few letters to him, 1750-1832. There are also letters from the Swiss political writer Pierre Etienne Louis Dumont (1759-1829) to the writer Richard Lovell Edgeworth (1744-1817) and his daughter Maria (1767-1849).

The whole collection covers the years 1750-1885. A small collection of printed and illustrative material relating to Bentham and his works, including all those so far published under the Bentham publications programme, the Bentham Project, is available for consultation in the Manuscripts Room. Details are traceable in Explore.

Handlists and finding aids:

Bentham's 'auto-icon'

Bentham's 'auto-icon'

Can be found at the end of the South Cloisters, Main Building

  • A Taylor Milne, Catalogue of the Manuscripts of Jeremy Bentham in the Library of University College London (2nd ed. 1962).
  • Chronological listing by Douglas Long, The manuscripts of Jeremy Bentham, a chronological index to the collection in the Library of University College London , (London, 1981).
  • The Collected Works of Jeremy Bentham (a series started by Athlone Press in 1968) is now being published by the Oxford University Press.

(A complete microfilm of the Bentham Papers is available at Special Collections).

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