The Letters of Richard Cobden
The aim of the Cobden Letters project is to produce a complete published set of the letters of this prominent British radical, who became a statesman of national and international standing through his leadership of the Anti-Corn Law League and his pursuit of a vision of international peace based on freedom of trade between sovereign nations. Between 2002 and 2006 the project was funded by two grants from the Arts & Humanities Research Council.
Three of four volumes have now been published by Oxford University Press to widespread critical acclaim:
- The Letters of Richard Cobden. Volume 1 1815-1847, edited by Anthony Howe, with the assistance of Simon Morgan and Gordon Bannerman (Oxford University Press, 2007)
- The Letters of Richard Cobden. Volume 2 1848-1853, edited by Anthony Howe, with the assistance of Simon Morgan and Gordon Bannerman (Oxford University Press, 2010)
- The Letters of Richard Cobden. Volume 3 1854-1859, edited by Anthony Howe and Simon Morgan, with the assistance of Gordon Bannerman, (Oxford University Press, 2012) ukcatalogue.oup.com/product/9780199211975.do
- The Letters of Richard Cobden. Volume 4 1860-1865, edited by Anthony Howe and Simon Morgan, with the assistance of Gordon Bannerman, is now in press, due for publication by Oxford University Press on 4 August 2015
‘Anthony Howe's comprehensive, erudite and superbly annotated edition . . . will take its place alongside Gladstone's diaries, the letters of Carlyle and Disraeli, and John Stuart Mill's collected works as an indispensable resource for understanding the Victorians'
Miles Taylor, London Review of Books
‘… an edition skilfully masterminded by Anthony Howe, who is now established as the foremost commentator on the history of free trade and mercantile politics in Britain. The letters are a great monument to Cobden's restless political activity, all the more so for revealing a more emotional and obsessive personality than many would have suspected: Joseph Parkes's remark that they contained "a few rabid sentences… better deleted" rather underestimates the matter'
Jonathan Parry, Times Literary Supplement
The Cobden project has recently acquired copies of several important collections of letters including a group of letters addressed to Charles Francis Adams, the American minister in London during the American Civil War; several hitherto unknown letters to the leading cotton master Henry Ashworth, courtesy of a family collection; individual letters to the pioneer of savings banks Sir Charles Pike (1850), and the peace activist George Conder (1853); several letters to the Paris representative of the Lyons silk trade, Natalis Rondot (1860).
Cobden's letters have proved a major source for the pioneering history of the ‘Cheap Press' recently published by Martin Hewitt, The Dawn of the Cheap Press in Victorian Britain: The End of the Taxes on Knowledge, 1849-1869 (Bloomsbury, 2014) and for Dr Jan Lemnitzer in his path-breaking Power, Law, and the End of Privateering (Palgrave, 2014)
They have also proved a fruitful comparative source for Georgios Varouxakis in his major study, Liberty Abroad: J. S. Mill on International Relations (Cambridge University Press, 2013)
They are also used in Anthony Howe's recent talk on ‘British Liberal Internationalism in the Nineteenth Century' at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, Bologna, 29 September 2014, accessible here.
For a related interview, please see here.
See too Rosario López, ‘Richard Cobden's European Tour: Three Unpublished essays on Spain, Venice and Russia', History of European Ideas, published online 29 September 2014, DOI: 10.1080/01916599.2014.949051; http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/01916599.2014.949051#.VGYHXdJyYdU
The American ‘Cobdenites' have been given important scholarly attention in Marc-William Palen, ‘Foreign Relations in the Gilded Age: a British Free-Trade Conspiracy', Diplomatic History 2013
Address and Contacts
The Letters of Richard Cobden
School of History
University of East Anglia
Tel: +44 (0)1603 593635
Fax: +44 (0)1603 250434
Prof Anthony Howe (Editor)