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Papers of Sir Sidney Lee


Papers of Sir Sidney Lee, Shakespearean scholar

  • Finding No


  • Date

    1886 - 1925

  • Extent

    263 files

  • Status


  • Level


  • Associated people

    Lee, Sidney

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Admin History

Sir Sidney Lee Collection Lee (1859-1926), a distinguished Shakespearean scholar, was from 1882 to 1916 closely associated with the Dictionary of National Biography, as sub-editor under Leslie Stephens until 1890 and editor from 1891-1901 and 1910-16 with general oversight of the project until 1916. His articles for this Dictionary on Queen Victoria and Shakespeare were later enlarged into full-scale biographies, the latter running through six editions before a new revised edition was produced for the Tercentenary in 1916; the whole reaching 13 editions before his death. Lee always treated the life and writings of Shakespeare in close connection with each other and with the literature and history of the time, themes which led him to consider in detail Shakespeare's sources and comparative literature. In 1909 he undertook to edit for the Clarendon Press `Shakespeare's England,' a series of articles by various contributors on aspects of society in Elizabethan England. Pressure of work forced him to give up the editorship in 1914 but the work was brought out in 1916. For many years Lee devoted much of his spare time to popularizing English studies, lecturing for many learned and educational bodies, his closest connection being with Toynbee Hall for which he arranged concerts and lectures. In 1913 he was appointed to the newly created chair of English Language and Literature at the East London College where his lectures attracted many serious students. He was awarded an Honorary degree by Oxford in 1907 and knighted in 1911. Lee's association with Stratford lasted for many years: elected to the Board of Trustees of Shakespeare's Birthplace, he was, from 1903 until his death, Executive Chairman of the Trustees and while his visits were not as frequent as he would have wished, he maintained a close correspondence with the two Secretaries and Librarians to the Trust, Richard Savage and Frederick Wellstood, as well as with the local Trustees, A.D. Flower and Sir Arthur Hodgson.