Skip to main content

Latest news

William Hayley & William Cowper’s “calamitous depression”

02 May 2019

On Tuesday, June 20th 1797, the writer and scholar William Hayley received this letter from his dearest friend, the poet William Cowper. It was unsigned.

Read more

An Eighteenth century love triangle

11 Feb 2019

A poet, his wife, and “the ugliest of all possible kept mistresses”. In the second instalment of a series on the Fitzwilliam Museum’s Hayley Papers, Lisa Gee introduces an eighteenth-century love triangle. William Hayley married his first wife, Eliza, on the rebound. When it turned out that she couldn’t bear to be touched, they brought another woman into their marriage.

Read more

Who was William Hayley?

23 Jan 2019

William Hayley (1745-1820) is a neglected figure whose influence on literary and cultural history is now being recognised. But who was he? Dr Lisa Gee has been researching and cataloguing the Fitzwilliam Museum’s Hayley Papers. The Fitzwilliam Museum holds the world’s largest collection of manuscript material relating to William Hayley (1745-1820). A largely unknown figure today, Hayley was an acclaimed poet, a multi-lingual scholar and the author of the bestselling and highly influential The Triumphs of Temper (which advised young women on how to attract and keep a husband and was written in rhyming couplets). He achieved both commercial and critical success before, towards the end of his life, his work fell out of fashion. Posthumously, he became a laughing-stock, remembered only for irritating William Blake and writing bad poetry. But who was he really?

Read more
Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on LinkedIn
University of Cambridge logo The British Academy Logo
University of Cambridge Museums logo Designation scheme Logo Accredited Museum status logo Cambridge City Council Logo Arts Council England Logo Research England logo