The Royal Literary Fund Archive

The archive of the Royal Literary Fund contains tens of thousands of documents dating from the Fund’s foundation by David Williams in 1790 through until the mid-twentieth century and is a unique and valuable resource for studying both the lives of specific writers and the history of authorship in Britain. It is deposited on loan at the British Library and large part has been fully catalogued to facilitate access.

The bulk of the available material consists of case files for the 3060 applicants who first applied for aid between 1790 and 1918. These include such exalted figures as Samuel Taylor Coleridge, François-René de Chateaubriand, James Hogg, John Clare, Joseph Conrad, Bram Stoker, E. Nesbit and James Joyce, as well as hundreds of less famous writers. The files include thousands of letters from applicants and their supporters as well as application forms, receipts and other documents chronicling literary lives, successes and disappointments. Together they comprise a rich and diverse account of over a century of authors struggling to earn their livings by the pen. As well as the case files, the archive includes the Fund’s Minute Books and Annual Reports, which detail the internal workings of the Fund. 

The full catalogue of available documents can be accessed using the

British Library Archives and Manuscripts Catalogue.

To search only for records in the Royal Literary Fund Archive, add 'RLF' to your search terms. The records are most easily navigated using the hierarchal links and the search-refining options displayed to the left. 
Most of the catalogued materials are also available on microfilm in a number of libraries, including the National Library of Scotland, the Bodleian Library, Cambridge University Library and the library of Cardiff University. The references in the online catalogue are consistent with those used for the microfilms.