Skip to main content

Papers of John Cuming Walters relating to Shakespeare

Identifier: W35564

Scope and Contents

This collection contains the call numbers Y.d.1417 (1-2011).

The first part of this collection is comprised of autograph letters signed to Walters from various Shakespeare enthusiasts, scholars, Baconians, publishers, and printers. These correspondents include William Salt Brassington (1859-1939), Frederic Henry Fisher, George Frisbee, Granville George Greenwood (1850-1928), William Jaggard (1868-1947), Horace Nickson, Cecil Palmer, John Lewis Alexander Paton (1863-1946), Richard Savage, Bernard Rowland Ward (1863-1933), Sir William Henry Bailey (1838-1913), and William S. Smedley.

The bulk of the collection consists of manuscript drafts and printed essays by Walters on Shakespeare. There are also many printed programs, broadside advertisements, and manuscript drafts pertaining to Walters' lectures on Shakespeare (particularly those given in the Manchester area). Also in the collection are Walters' autograph notes, scrapbooks, and an abundance of newspaper and magazine clippings. Topics include the Shakespeare-Bacon theory (including the Northumberland manuscript and Baconian cipher), Edward De Vere, critical interpretations of Shakespeare's plays and sonnets, forgeries, The Shakespeare Tercentenary, Shakespeare's "dark period," Shakespeare and the stage, and the First Folio. Much of the collection sheds light on a network of English literary and cultural societies spreading from Knutsford to Nottingham (see Y.d.1417 (1472-1501) in particular).


  • ca. 1898-1932


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Biographical/Historical note

John Cuming Walters (1863-1933), journalist and author, was a prodigiously energetic man who participated fully in the cultural life of Northwest England during the early twentieth century. He edited the Manchester city news (from 1906 to 1932) and Manchester evening chronicle and published numerous books on a variety of subjects including social housing, psychic phenomena, English topography, and King Arthur. Walters' primary interests, however, were literary. He wrote and edited works on Charles Dickens, Alfred Tennyson and Marie Corelli and was a central figure in the Lancashire Shakespeare community. Walters wrote essays on the topic and, in 1899, published a book, The mystery of Shakespeare's sonnets: an attempted elucidation. Walters used his position as editor to engage as a controversialist (see the Judge Parry material, Y.d.1417 (435-475)), and he lectured indefatigably all over the north of England (the talk "Shakespeare's literary debt" (Y.d.1417 (634-640)) was delivered before five audiences between 1893 and 1909, at places including Newcastle, Yardley and Manchester).

More information on Walters' life can be found in Lancashire literary worthies by Lionel Milner Angus-Butterworth (1980).


2011.0 items

Language of Materials



Autograph letters, manuscript and printed essays, newspaper and magazine clippings, scrapbooks, and printed programs, all pertaining to John Cuming Walters' interests in Shakespeare and involvement in the cultural community in Northwest England.


Materials are arranged into two series: Letters to John Cuming Walters (Series 1) and Manuscript material, newspaper clippings, notebooks, and ephemera (Series 2). Series 1 consists of correspondence to John Cuming Walters arranged by sender and date. Series 2 contains manuscript material and printed clippings further divided into subseries by subject matter (Baconian theory, Criticism and interpretation, Plays, Sonnets, Miscellaneous). All material that defies classification has been placed into the Miscellaneous subseries, which also includes contains a collection of twelve orange folders that have been left in the original order in which they were received.

Acquisition Information

Purchased from Richard Ford, June 2008.

Processing Information

Processed by Folger Shakespeare Library staff. The collection was received in two boxes divided into packets, many of which were marked with titles describing at least part of the content. Most of this arrangement has been retained, however, some packets have been split up or combined to create more continuity in the subject matter.

Guide to the Papers of John Cuming Walters, ca. 1898-1932 Folger MS Y.d.1417 (1-2011)
In Process
Finding aid prepared by Kathleen Burlingame and Nadia Seiler, 2010-2011; some information derived from a provisional finding aid created by dealer.
December 2010
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Folger Shakespeare Library Repository

201 E. Capitol St. SE
Washington DC 20003 USA