Wednesday 15 May 2013

Samuel Butler Project - Presentation by Rebecca Watts, Butler Project Associate

Samuel Butler - Victorian polymath (1835-1902)
In the fleur-de-lis decorated Lightfoot Room CLG members gathered for a very illuminating presentation on the Victorian polymath Samuel Butler (1835-1902). Butler was a writer, artist and photographer. He engaged in ‘written debates’ with Darwin and was respected by significant contemporaries such as George Bernard Shaw and E. M. Forster. Butler wrote fiction and non-fiction, subjects include evolution, art, religion and travel. He often provided illustrations for his own works. His photographic works reflect his travel in Italy and provide a social history of Victorian society.

The Butler Collection includes around 100 boxes of papers, articles and correspondence, more than 650 printed books, 450 paintings, watercolours, drawings and prints, 50 artefacts and a substantial photographic archive.
Selection of Samuel Butler's paintings and sketches

Rebecca also provided an insight into managing such a diverse archive, including deciding which items should be conserved, creating a searchable catalogue, organising events and exhibitions, working with schools and putting Butler scholars in contact with one another.

The Butler Project began in July 2011 and runs until July 2013. The project is funded jointly by the Heritage Lottery Fund and St John’s College. For further information visit
Rebecca Watts (Butler Project Associate) and Rachel Walker (Temporary Library Projects Assistant)
By Jo Milton, Collection Development Manager at Cambridge University Medical Library