Copley Report: Genevieve Theodora McNutt

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By Matthew Sangster

Genevieve Theodora McNutt was awarded Stephen Copley Research Award by BARS earlier this year. Below, she gives an account of the research trip to the British Library that this funding enabled her to complete.

The Stephen Copley Research Award allowed me to travel to London to visit the British Library. My research addresses the work of the antiquary Joseph Ritson, and I hoped to develop a better understanding of the research that Ritson undertook in the British Museum, particularly in the early years between his move to London in 1775 and his first major publications in 1782. This period is sparsely covered in Bertrand Bronson’s excellent biography, as Bronson acknowledges. There are very few surviving letters from this period, and little evidence of Ritson’s activities. And yet, from his published work, it is clear that he carried out an astonishing project of research into early English literature during this period. During my trip, I was able to consult material held in the British Library which provided invaluable evidence of Ritson’s research.

The Register of Manuscripts Sent to the Reading Room of the British Museum goes a long way towards filling the gaps in Ritson’s …read more