Accessing the Archive


The parts of the Royal Literary Fund Archive that this database covers are held at the British Library (the case files are kept in the blue boxes on the right-hand set of shelves in the image above). They are available for use in the Manuscripts Reading Room by anyone with a reader pass. Materials can be requested directly in the reading rooms, but with a reader pass manuscripts can also be ordered in advance using the online archives catalogue. The item references in this database can be entered into the British Library catalogue to quickly locate relevant materials. It is best to order case files rather than items: for example, to view Ezra Pound’s supporting letter for James Joyce’s application (Loan 96 RLF 1/2990/11), request Joyce’s entire case file (Loan 96 RLF 1/2990). The British Library holds extensive Royal Literary Fund materials beyond those covered by this database: these include minute books, annual reports, administrative documents and papers relating to fundraising anniversary dinners. The whole archive can be explored using the library’s collection browser interface.

A microfilm edition of a substantial part of the RLF archive was produced by World Microfilm Publications between 1982 and 1983. This edition includes all documents in the case files dating from between 1790 and 1918 (truncating case files that run later than this date). It also includes minute books and annual reports. The microfilm edition is held by a number of research libraries in the United Kingdom, including the National Library of Scotland, the Bodleian Library, Cambridge University Library and the library of Cardiff University. Copies of the microfilm have recently been digitised by Gale Cengage; the digital version is available at institutions that have purchased the ‘British Theatre, Music, and Literature: High and Popular Culture’ module of Nineteenth Century Collections Online. The case files in both of these copies of the archive use the same numbering that is used in this database. To derive a case file or item number from the British Library references used in the entries, use the number(s) after the first slash: Loan 96 RLF 1/42 is Case File 42 (Samuel Taylor Coleridge) and Loan 96 RLF 1/2934/1 is the first item in Case File 2934 (Edith Nesbit Bland, more commonly known as E. Nesbit).