James Halliwell-Phillipps

James Halliwell-Phillipps

James Orchard Halliwell in 1863
Born James Orchard Halliwell
(1820-06-21)21 June 1820
Died 3 January 1889(1889-01-03) (aged 68)
Resting place All Saints Church, Patcham
50°51′59.77″N 0°9′2.54″W / 50.8666028°N 0.1507056°W / 50.8666028; -0.1507056
Nationality British
Alma mater Jesus College, Cambridge
Occupation Scholar, author
Known for Writing on William Shakespeare

James Orchard Halliwell-Phillipps, born James Orchard Halliwell (21 June 1820 – 3 January 1889), was an English Shakespearean scholar, and a collector of English nursery rhymes and fairy tales.[1]


The son of Thomas Halliwell, he was born in London and was educated privately and at Jesus College, Cambridge.[2] He devoted himself to antiquarian research, particularly of early English literature. In 1839 he edited Sir John Mandeville's Travels; in 1842 published an Account of the European manuscripts in the Chetham Library, besides a newly discovered metrical romance of the 15th century (Torrent of Portugal).[3]

In 1841, while at Cambridge, the young Halliwell dedicated his book Reliquae Antiquae to Sir Thomas Phillipps, the noted bibliomaniac. Phillipps invited Halliwell to stay at his estate, Middle Hill.[4] There Halliwell met Phillipps's daughter, Henrietta, to whom he soon proposed marriage. However, also around this time, Halliwell was accused of stealing manuscripts from Trinity College, Cambridge. Although never prosecuted, Phillipps's suspicions were aroused and he refused to consent to the marriage. This led to the couple's elopement in 1842. William A. Jackson (1905–1964), bibliographer and Harvard professor, also argues that Halliwell stole an exceedingly rare 1603 quarto Hamlet from Phillipps, removed the title page (bearing Phillipps's mark) and later sold it.[4] Phillipps refused ever to see his daughter or Halliwell again. Halliwell also had a habit, detested by bibliophiles, of cutting up seventeenth-century books and pasting parts he liked into scrapbooks. During his life he destroyed eight hundred books and made thirty-six hundred scraps.[4]

In 1842, Halliwell published the first edition of Nursery Rhymes of England followed by Nursery Rhymes and Nursery Tales, containing the first printed version of the Three Little Pigs.[5] and a version of the Christmas carol The Twelve Days of Christmas.[6] In 1848 he published his Life of Shakespeare, illustrated by John Thomas Blight (1835–1911), which had several editions; in 1853–1865 a sumptuous edition, limited to 150 copies, of Shakespeare in folio, with full critical notes; in 1863 a Calendar of the Records at Stratford-on-Avon; in 1864 a History of New Place. After 1870 he entirely gave up textual criticism, and devoted his attention to elucidating the particulars of Shakespeare's life. He collated all the available facts and documents in relation to it, and exhausted the information to be found in local records in his Outlines of the Life of Shakespeare. He was mainly instrumental in the purchase of New Place for the corporation of Stratford-on-Avon, and in the formation there of the Shakespeare museum.

His publications in all numbered more than sixty volumes. He assumed the name of Phillipps in 1872, under the will of the grandfather of his first wife, Henrietta Phillipps. He took an active interest in the Camden Society, the Percy Society and the Shakespeare Society, for which he edited many early English and Elizabethan works. From 1845 Halliwell was excluded from the library of the British Museum on account of the suspicion concerning his possession of some manuscripts which had been removed from the library of Trinity College, Cambridge. He published privately an explanation of the matter in 1845. He died on 3 January 1889, and was buried in Patcham churchyard, near Hollingbury in East Sussex.[7]

His house, Hollingbury Copse, near Brighton, was full of rare and curious works, and he generously gave many of them to Chetham's Library,[8] Manchester, to the Morrab Library of Penzance, to the Smithsonian Institution, and to the library of the University of Edinburgh.[9][10]


  1.  "Halliwell, James Orchard". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.
  2. "Halliwell (post Phillipps and Halliwell-Phillipps), James Orchard (HLWL836JO)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  3. Torrent of Portugal. London: John Russell Smith. 1842.
  4. 1 2 3 Rasmussen, Eric (2011). The Shakespeare Thefts. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 83–87. ISBN 9780230109414.
  5. Ashliman, Professor D. L. "Three Little Pigs and other folktales of Aarne-Thompson-Uther type 124". Folklore and Mythology Electronic Texts. University of Pittsburgh. Retrieved 25 July 2010.
  6. Halliwell, James Orchard (1842). The Nursery Rhymes of England. London: Richards. pp. 127–128.
  7. "James Orchard Halliwell-Phillipps: the life and works of the Shakespearean scholar and bookman". p.583. Oak Knoll Press, 2001. Retrieved 11 June 2012
  8. The Halliwell-Phillipps Collection, Chetham's Library
  9. Collection of James O. Halliwell-Phillipps, Edinburgh University Library
  10. Engel, III, Wilson F. (1980). "J. O. Halliwell-Phillipps and the Edinburgh University Library". The Library: The Transactions of the Bibliographical Society. s6-II (2): 193–198. doi:10.1093/library/s6-II.2.193.

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 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Halliwell-Phillipps, James Orchard". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. 

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