William Hayley (1745-1820), poet and biographer, attended Eton College and Trinity Hall, Cambridge, but never graduated with a degree. His first published work, 'Ode on the Birth of the Prince of Wales' appeared in 'Cambridge Verses' and 'Gentleman's Magazine', but his attempts at playwriting were not so successful and made him turn to poetry, centering on odes, sonnets, and epitaphs. Hayley enjoyed being surrounded by talented people, including William Blake, George Romney, and William Cowper, and they all influenced his future endeavors. His first major work, 'Epistle on Painting, Addressed to George Romney', was published in 1778 and therein followed other poetic works, as well as his most well-known poem, 'Triumphs of Temper' (1781) and a biography of John Milton (1796). After the death of his son in 1800, Hayley became reclusive in his home in Felpham, but continued to write both poetry and biographies, including a biography of his friend, William Cowper. He died at his home in 1820 from kidney trouble.
89 letters, including some undated and/or incomplete. Also including: 'Proposals for publishing a Life of the late William Hodges Esq.' 25 May 1797; two versions of the poem 'Peace to these Reliques! Once the bright attire ...', Mar. 1800 (epitaph on George Steevens, d. 1800, another version printed in J. Nichols (ed.), Literary Anecdotes, London, 1812, 2, p. 657); 'Private Squib: The adventures of an unfortunate Muse', undated and unpublished.
Item 90: letter from Henry Richards Luard to William Robertson Smith, 12 July 1887 relating to the donation of the material.
From the collection of Joseph Mayer of Liverpool. Presented by Henry Richards Luard, 12 July 1887.