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Aubrey De Vere Letters to Robert Perceval Graves

Identifier: MSE/IR 1040

Scope and Contents

This collection centers on a series of letters sent from the poet Aubrey De Vere to the clergyman Robert Perceval Graves over the course of fifty-five years, particularly pertaining to the life of their mutual friend, William Rowan Hamilton. Also present are several of De Vere’s letters that were sent to an unidentified person, likely Bishop Charles Graves. Additionally included are three letters sent from Elinor O’Brien to Robert Perceval Graves.

All of the letters are handwritten, though one is accompanied by a printed set of sonnets.


  • Creation: 1833 - 1891
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1879 - 1883


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright status for collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Biographical / Historical

Aubrey Thomas De Vere (1814 – 1902) was the third son of Sir Aubrey De Vere, 2nd baronet Curragh (28 August 1788 – 5 July 1846) and Mary Rice (26 November 1788 – 11 February 1856). De Vere’s siblings included Sir Stephen De Vere, 3rd Baronet Curragh, and Elinor O’Brien. A member of Ireland’s Anglo-Irish aristocracy, De Vere was educated at Trinity College Dublin where he read Kant and Coleridge. In 1851 he left the Church of Ireland and converted to Catholicism While in Avignon, France. De Vere lived out his life at his family’s estate at Curraghchase in Limerick, never marrying.

De Vere developed a strong friendship with Sir William Rowan Hamilton (4 August 1805 – 2 September 1865), the Andrews Professor of Astronomy at Trinity College Dublin, with whom he shared an appreciation of the poets Coleridge and Wordsworth. Hamilton made great strides in the field of mathematics and theoretical physics, particularly his invention of quaternions and his reformation of the Newtonian mechanics, though De Vere would remember Hamilton most fondly for his original contributions to poetry. De Vere would eventually contribute his letters and recollections of Hamilton to Robert Perceval Graves (1810–5 October 1893), for Graves’ sprawling three-volume biography, Life of Sir William Rowan Hamilton.

Graves had also been educated at Trinity, reading classics for his bachelor’s degree. Graves would then go on to serve as a clergyman in the Lake District for over thirty years, befriending both William Wordsworth and Hartley Coleridge, son of the poet Samuel Coleridge. In 1864 he would return to Dublin, serving as sub-Dean of the Chapel Royal, teaching at Alexandra College, and acting as a proponent for women in higher education. His magnum opus, however, remains his biography of William Rowan Hamilton, published in three volumes in 1882, 1885, and 1889.

Charles Graves (6 December 1812 – 17 July 1899), Robert Perceval Graves’ younger brother, was also a Church of Ireland clergyman, eventually becoming Bishop of Limerick, Ardfert and Aghadoe as well as Erasmus Smith's Professor of Mathematics at Trinity College Dublin. Bishop Graves was also acquainted with both Aubrey Thomas De Vere and Sir William Rowan Hamilton.


0.5 Cubic Feet (Legal Document Box)

Language of Materials



Material has been arranged primarily by creator, then chronologically.

Related Materials

MSE/IR 1013, Aubrey De Vere Poems, Rare Books & Special Collections, Hesburgh Libraries, University of Notre Dame, contains three poems written by De Vere.

Aubrey DeVere Papers, ZEJ Notre Dame Archives, contains one letter to Professor Lyons, one to Father Burtsell and two letters to a "Dear Sir."

Lauren Jean
16 Feburary 2022
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the University of Notre Dame Rare Books & Special Collections Repository

102 Hesburgh Library
Notre Dame IN 46556