Gabriel Harvey



Lopez the Jew executed 1594: An Opinion by Gabriel Harvey, ed. Frank Marcham (Harrow Weald, Middlesex, 1927)

Moore Smith

G.C. Moore Smith, Gabriel Harvey's Marginalia (Stratford-upon-Avon, 1913)


Eleanor Relle, ‘Some New Marginalia and Poems of Gabriel Harvey’, Review of English Studies, NS 23.92 (November 1972), 401-16


Virginia F. Stern, Gabriel Harvey: His Life, Marginalia and Library (Oxford, 1979)


Harold S. Wilson, ‘Gabriel Harvey's Method of Annotating His Books’, Harvard Library Bulletin, 2 (1948), 344-61


The Cambridge scholar, writer and rhetorician Gabriel Harvey had a somewhat turbulent career, encountering considerable ridicule and opposition from both academic and literary quarters, as well as apparently making only limited progress as a lawyer before fading into obscurity in his later years. Although author of a number of published works on various subjects, he is perhaps best remembered as a friend of Edmund Spenser and participant in a pamphlet war with Thomas Nashe. Besides an important autograph letterbook by him that survives (*HvG 8) and remains of his commonplace books (HvG 6-7), which throw much light on his character, life and preoccupations, Harvey's most enduring legacy, however, is the library he formed, even though it is all now widely dispersed. His books are distinguished by the inscriptions and often copious annotations he added in his own generally characteristic italic hand. They are certainly collectors' items, although many of them have now found permanent homes in public or academic libraries. Unrecorded volumes owned by him still occasionally turn up in sale catalogues, and no doubt more will surface in due course.

Given this dispersal, it is hardly surprising that there is no definitive catalogue of Harvey's books. The basis of a catalogue, subject to amendment, is that made in Virginia Stern's study of 1979. This is itself partly based on pioneering catalogues made particularly by Moore Smith in 1913, and in his addenda ‘Printed Books with Gabriel Harvey's Autograph or MS. Notes’, Modern Language Review, 29 (1934), 68-70, and to a lesser extent by Frank Marcham in 1927. Some of her entries have been disputed, however, chiefly on the basis of misidentified handwriting, as well as on the absence of a signature by Harvey — an almost invariable characteristic of his books. These particular disputed volumes are given entries below under the category of ‘Printed Books with Annotations Doubtfully or Erroneously Attributed to Harvey’: HvG 172-181). Occasional others in Stern's catalogue are known only from old references or sale catalogues, some recorded in writings by W.C. Hazlitt, the books' whereabouts now unrecorded.

Also untraced, but given entries below, are some printed and manuscript works owned by Harvey that were recorded in documents now in the University of London, Senate House Library, MS 289. A letter by Thomas W. Jones, to W.S. Singer, from Nantwich, Cheshire, 25 September 1854, lists the contents of a composite volume of his comprising eight works owned, and evidently annotated, at least in part, by Gabriel Harvey. One of these items (No. 6) is now in the Newberry Library (see *HvG 113). The others, including a manuscript, are currently untraced (see HvG 26-29, *HvG 32, *HvG 62, *HvG 120). Jones's list is accompanied by an earlier small octavo volume of nine leaves (plus blanks), in old calf, incorporating a pasted-in signature of Harvey's and in which is inscribed other facsimile copies of his signature together with what appear to be transcripts of annotations by Harvey. These are inscribed (f. [1r] in a nineteenth-century hand ‘Copied from a Note by Gabriell Harvey, in a miscellaneous vol. containing the Medea & Thyeste of Lod. Dolce. - The Hecuba & Iphigenia of Euripides in Latin by Erasmus - And the first Italian & English Grammar by Henry Grantham 1575’ (see *HvG 65, *HvG 75, *HvG 94).

In addition, Stern offers (pp. 264-71) a list of ‘books probably owned by Harvey’ based chiefly on his references to these works in his own writings. These putative items are not included here.

For present purposes the entries for Harvey's books below are based on Stern's catalogue, with the reservations noted above, and with some measure of updating, incorporating additions that have come to light since 1979 as well as some relocations. Short of a comprehensive first-hand study of some 166 volumes now dispersed among public and private libraries around the world, these entries too must serve as a provisional catalogue, subject to amendment in due course.

Peter Beal