Ker family papers

Ker family papers

This collection consists of papers of the Ker family, particularly William Paton Ker, literary scholar (1855-1923). He was the eldest son of a Glasgow merchant, William Ker and his wife Caroline (neé Paton) who also had two daughters and two younger sons. There are letters between most of the family members but primarily between William Paton Ker, his father, and his sister Penelope. Other members of the family, friends and acquaintances are also referred to.

William Paton Ker studied at Glasgow University and Balliol College, Oxford and was elected to a fellowship at All Souls College. He was Professor of English Literature at the University of South Wales, Cardiff from 1883 and Professor of English Language and Literature at University College London (1889-1922). Through his career and publications, including Epic and Romance (1897), he made a significant contribution to the development of academic study in these subjects. He was also largely responsible for the founding, in 1917, of the first department of Scandinavian studies in England. In 1920 he was appointed Chair of Poetry at the University of Oxford.

Although the papers held here relate more to Ker's personal life than his academic career, a few of his notebooks contain lecture notes, and his diaries and letters record both personal and work appointments. Ker was a keen walker and climber; his travels, including trips to Iceland, are well-documented in his letters, diaries and sketchbooks. Most of the material in the collection dates from the 1860s to the 1920s. It provides an insight into Ker's life, his family and social circle and contemporary events in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

The papers were deposited by William Paton Ker's nephew in 1970/71.

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