Nathaniel Wedd was born in Northumberland in 1864. He was raised largely by his mother in London, his father having died when he was young, and came to King's College as a scholar from the City of London School in 1883. In his final year as an undergraduate, he took firsts in both parts of the classical tripos, leading to his election as a fellow of King's in 1888.
As a fellow, Wedd excelled in scholarship, putting his broad range of knowledge and keen intellect at the service of a number of scholars whose work benefitted thereby. He published little of his own, however; namely, a notable edition of 'Orestes' by Euripedes. His true calling, as he saw it, was teaching, and it is as an inspirational lecturer and tutor that he is widely remembered. He was in large part responsible for the reinvigoration of classics in the University at this time, and he provided even more invaluable service to the colleges of King's and Newnham.
It is well known that Wedd took on far more than his share of duties at King's, allowing other scholars - notably M.R. James and Walter Headlam - to concentrate on research. The consequences of Wedd's choice, however, extended far beyond his fellow scholars. It was principally Wedd and Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson who created the atmosphere of inspiration and individuality that dominated the college at the turn of the century. Wedd, according to an obituary, had the 'gift of winning the confidence of the most reserved....He understood undergraduates of all kinds and cared to see only their merits, of which he was always the first and sometimes the only discoverer; and once he knew his man, he knew exactly how best to help and stimulate him.' As his tutor, Wedd was a direct influence on the author E.M. Forster, who credited him with 'such awakening as has befallen me'. The King's that Wedd helped to create shaped both Rupert Brooke and J.M. Keynes.
This collection comprises poetry, novels, essays, memoirs, journals, correspondence, photographs and other personal papers of Nathaniel Wedd, as well as papers given after Wedd's death. It also includes the papers of his wife, Rachel Wedd, whom he originally met as one of his pupils at Newnham.
The majority of the papers of Nathaniel Wedd were bequeathed to King's College by Mrs. Rachel Wedd in 1943 and additional letters were deposited in 1962 and 1977. Bertram and Harold Bulmer gave Nathaniel Wedd's memoir, 'The University', and copies of Rachel Wedd's treatise on civilisation in June 1985. These gifts were previously listed as Misc. 28 and 30, Wedd I-VI.
Materials deposited during the 1980s by members of the Bulmer family, prinicipally Harold Bulmer, were formerly listed as the 'Bulmer-Wedd Collection' I-II. Items which belong within the Bulmer family archive are now described in a separate catalogue.
Permission to quote from the published and unpublished writings of Nathaniel Wedd must be obtained from the Librarian, King's College, Cambridge CB2 1ST.
Please cite as King's College Archive Centre, Cambridge, The Papers of Nathaniel Wedd, NW
The biographical details above were taken from the 'Annual Report of the Council, King's College Cambridge' (Nov. 1940), pp. 2-4.
For letters by Nathaniel and Rachel Wedd, as opposed to those received, see King's College Archive Centre, Cambridge EFB.
This new catalogue was completed in July 1998.