John Henry Newman Collection

About the Collection

The John Henry Newman Collection includes over 1000 volumes connected with the life and work of the nineteenth-century English theologian, Blessed John Henry Newman. It embraces virtually all the works of Newman (most in the first edition), as well as anthologies and published collections of his letters and autobiographical writings. The collection includes some of Newman’s pamphlets and periodical articles, two autograph letters by Newman, photographs, and scrapbooks of clippings. The collection is complemented by the significant holdings of secondary materials about Newman available in the Library’s circulating collection.

Among the highlights of the Newman Collection are the following:

Autograph letter to Sir George Bowyer, Bt.

Sir George Bowyer, Bt. (1811-1883) was a leading English jurist. Having converted to Catholicism in 1850, he was then elected to the House of Commons and became a champion of Catholic causes. In February 1875 Newman sent Bowyer a copy of his recently published A Letter Addressed to His Grace the Duke of Norfolk. This work was a reply to William Gladstone (later Prime Minister) on the question of papal infallibility. Enclosed in the book is a letter written by Newman to Bowyer. This item was formerly in the collection of the Reverend Cyril W. Sullivan, of Brampton.

Autograph letter to Walter William Ouless

Walter William Ouless (1848-1933) was a painter who first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1869. On the advice of Sir John E. Millais, Ouless switched from painting subject pictures to portraiture. The National Portrait Gallery includes five of his works. In 1880-81 Ouless painted a portrait of Newman now in the collection of Oriel College, Oxford. The Newman letter to Ouless was formerly in the collection of Miss Mary G. Stevens of Toronto. In 1934, Miss Stevens had bought a first edition of Newman’s Apologia from a Boston bookseller; by chance the Newman letter was found inside.

Tennyson association copy

Cardinal Newman and Alfred, Lord Tennyson, never met. A mutual friend, Lady Simeon, tried to arrange a meeting in 1877. Then in Augst 1882 the Irish poet Aubrey de Vere invited Newman to visit the Tennysons in Surrey, but Newman declined the invitation on account of old age. Several years later de Vere gave Tennyson a copy of the book Characteristics from the Writings of John Henry Newman, a popular anthology compiled by William Samuel Lilly, the convert secretary of the Catholic Union. The book is inscribed to Tennyson by de Vere, has Tennyson’s signature on the verso of the half-title page, and includes a number of annotations in Tennyson’s hand.

First edition of The Arians of the Fourth Century

The Arians of the Fourth Century was Newman’s first important theological work. In March 1831 Newman was invited to write a history of church councils as part of a new “Theological Library” to be published by Rivington. Newman soon discovered that the subject as envisaged would require several volumes. Eventually he chose to write a work, both historical and theological, on the early Eastern councils. The book was published by Rivington in November 1833 (but not as part of the “Theological Library”), and dedicated to John Keble who like Newman was a Fellow at Oriel College. The Library’s first edition of The Arians of the Fourth Century was formerly in the collection of the Reverend Cyril W. Sullivan, of Brampton.

All items in the John Henry Newman Collection are listed in the University of Toronto Libraries catalogue.