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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

Hyman Hurwitz (1770–1844)

a summary of his Bloomsbury connections

He was a Polish-born Biblical scholar who lived in Highgate, where he ran a school for Jewish pupils and was a friend and neighbour of Samuel Taylor Coleridge

He was appointed to the first Chair of Hebrew at the University of London (later University College London) in January 1828 (Council Minutes, vol. I, 5 January 1828, UCL Records Office)

He had been one of the first men to apply for a Chair when the Professorships were announced in the press in January 1827 (Council Minutes, vol. I, 10 February 1827, UCL Records Office)

Hurwitz had the distinction of receiving a testimonial from Coleridge: at the Council meeting of 17 February 1827, “Mr Brougham read a letter from Mr Coleridge in testimony of the talents of Mr Hurwitz, candidate for the professorship of Hebrew” (Council Minutes, vol. I, UCL Records Office)

There was anxiety among some of the Council that Hurwitz would offend religious sensibilities by discussing the Bible as Hebrew literature

Aware of the delicate and sometimes fraught relations between supporters of the university who held different religious persuasions, Thomas Campbell was particularly worried, writing to another Council member, Lord Auckland, “Woe betide that poor Jew if he makes one remark that [a] Christian bigot can pick a quarrel with” (H. Hale Bellot, University College London 1826–1926, 1929)

Nonetheless, Campbell supported the appointment, partly in order to please his fellow founder, “our excellent friend” Isaac Lyon Goldsmid, “to whom the scheme [ie for the university] is so deeply indebted” (H. Hale Bellot, University College London 1826–1926, 1929)

Hurwitz, along with the other Professors of Modern Languages, was paid a very small amount - £100 in the opening session – on the grounds that they could earn from private pupils and that in due course student numbers would rise sufficiently for Professors to earn a decent salary from fees (Education Committee, 27 October 1828, Committee Minutes 1828–1829U UCL Records Office)

This did not happen, but nonetheless Hurwitz continued to give loyal service to the University until his death in 1844 (Oxford Dictionary of National Biography)

For more general biographical information about Hyman Hurwitz, see his (brief) entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

This page last modified 7 April, 2011 by Deborah Colville


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