Richard Lovelace



Susan A. Clarke, ‘Richard Lovelace, Anthony Wood. and Some Previously Unremarked Lovelace Documents’, Notes & Queries, NS 51, No. 4 (December 2004), 362-6.


Lucasta. The Poems of Richard Lovelace, Esq., ed. W. Carew Hazlitt (London, 1864).


The Poems of Richard Lovelace, ed. C.H. Wilkinson, 2 vols (Oxford, 1925); 1 vol (Oxford, 1930).


Autograph Manuscripts

The Cavalier poet Richard Lovelace has left few manuscript remains. Neither, but for his celebrated song To Althea, From Prison, did his poems find much circulation in contemporary manuscript copies.

A single entirely autograph document signed by Lovelace survives. It is his petition to the House of Commons for his release from the Gatehouse prison on 17 June 1642 (*LoR 52). Otherwise, a few other examples of Lovelace's clear, bold signature are to be found in an academic record (*LoR 51)as well as in a notable series of legal documents relating to property in Kent (LoR 53-65). The biographical significance of the latter is discussed in Clarke.

In a letter to the TLS (14 August 1937), p. 592, C.H. Wilkinson mentions that Lovelace witnessed on 4 November 1646 a document among the archives of the Charterhouse; this large archive is now in the custody of the London Metropolitan Archives, but the document in question is not known at present. Richard Lovelace is also listed as one of the names represented in a quarto album of ‘Autographs (64 Old)’ sold at Puttick & Simpson's, 5 April 1893 (Rev. Philip Hookins sale), 3rd day, lot 709, to Westell.

Two printed books have also been recorded as bearing autograph ownership inscriptions by Lovelace (LoR 66-67).

Manuscript Copies

As Wilkinson has observed (1930, p. xix), ‘With one exception, Lovelace's poems do not seem to have achieved any great popularity in his own day; he certainly did not enjoy a reputation equal to that of Suckling or Randolph or Cartwright or Cleveland’. The exception, the celebrated To Althea, From Prison, is represented by twenty-three manuscript texts in the entries below (LoR 28-47). This poem is among those by Lovelace that lent themselves to musical treatment.

The Canon

Wilkinson's version of the canon — based on Lucasta (1649) and Lucasta. Posthume Poems (1659-60) — is in fact augmented by two other songs, found only in Henry Lawes's autograph songbook, which have been attributed to Lovelace by Lawes's biographer, Willa McClung Evans (LoR 7, LoR 26).

Lovelace's Siblings

One other source, now unfortunately unlocated, which might have both association and textual interest is the exemplum of the second edition of Richard Crashaw's Steps to the Temple (London, 1648), which is reported to contain on the versos of printer's proof-sheets a series of manuscript poems including at least five by Lovelace (LoR 1, LoR 2, LoR 5, LoR 11, LoR 27). This is of some interest since the poems were apparently copied by the poet's brother Dudley Posthumus Lovelace. His signature is recorded in Wilkinson (I, 77) as occurring on three presentation exempla of his brother's Lucasta. Posthume Poems (1659-60), a publication which he (with Eldred Revett) was instrumental in seeing through the press. Only one of these exempla is known at present: one in the Bodleian (Malone 372), with an apparently inserted leaf containing the inscription ‘For the Worthiest of Freindes [Mrs Elizabeth Hales added in another hand] From the Vnworthiest of Seruantes Dudley Posthumus-Louelace’. One of the two others, inscribed ‘For the Worthy of all Honour Henry Newton Esq. From the unworthiest of Seruants Dudley Posth. Louelace’, was formerly at Trinity College, Cambridge, but has been ‘missing’ since 1968. The other, inscribed ‘For the worthiest of Freindes Sr Edmvnd Bowyer From ye vnworthiest of his servants Dudley Posthumus-Louelace’ and formerly in the Christie-Miller library at Britwell Court, is mentioned in Joseph Hunter's Chorus Vatum Anglicanorum (Volume II) in the British Library (Add. MS 24488, ff. 112r-15r) as having been owned by ‘Mr George Hibbert’. This volume, which also reportedly contains a number of manuscript corrections, was owned by ‘Wm Knight’ in 1740 and bears the bookplate of the book collector James Bindley, FSA (1737-1818). It was sold at Sotheby's, 2 April 1924, lot 506, to Quaritch, and was re-offered in Quaritch's sale catalogue No. 436 (1930), item 1059. Wilkinson notes (I, 77) that yet other exempla of the work have Dudley Posthumus Lovelace's manuscript corrections of misprints, including volumes owned in 1924 by the dramatist John Drinkwater and by Mr H.T. Butler.

The handwriting of another of the poet's four brothers, Francis Lovelace (who wrote a complimentary poem for Lucasta), is found in two autograph letters by him to Matthew Parker, from Canterbury, 20 March 1637[/8] and 3 April 1639, now at Worcester college, Oxford (Wilkinson bequest, 1964-5). In addition, an exemplum of Lucasta (1649) allegedly bearing the ownership inscription of the poet's sister Joane (‘Johana Caesar her book’, written after her marriage to Robert Caesar), was sold at Sotheby Parke-Bernet, New York, on 15 November 1977 (David Borowitz sale), lot 156. In the sale catalogue it is recorded that ‘Among the dedicatory poems…two (by William Rudyerd and John Harmer) have signed subscriptions, and it is possible, in view of the closeness of this copy to the family, that they are autograph’. This volume is also described, with a facsimile example, in a sale catalogue of the American Art Association, New York, 4 December 1935, lot 267.


A late-eighteenth-century transcript of the 1649 edition of Lucasta is at Worcester College, Oxford (MS 240: MMe 9 (a)). Two letters by A.J. Pearman, to W.C. Hazlitt, dated 12 October 1863 and 7 June 1869 and discussing Lovelace, are among the Hazlitt collections in the British Library (Add. MSS 38898, ff. 225r-6r; 38900, ff. 317r-20r). Exempla of W.C. Hazlitt's edition of Lucasta (1864) annotated by George Thorn-Drury, KC (1860-1931), literary scholar and editor, are in the Bodleian (Thorn-Drury d. 34, e. 13), as is his exemplum (Thorn-Drury d. 52) of A.J. Pearman, The Kentish Family of Lovelace (1876).

Peter Beal