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Poet - Storyteller - Playwright - Journalist  Radical -Militant - Bristowyan


So many portraits - none true!

The Chatterton Manuscript Project

Breaks through the guff to get to the truth!


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muniment room with story 2
muniment room with story 2

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This delightful pre 1918 postcard tells the story of Chatterton's 'discovery' of the 'Rowley' manuscripts - which he claimed were among many ancient church documents stored in the coffers of the Muniment Room above the North Porch of St Mary Redcliffe church - and onward to his sad demise pictured in the pose from Wallis's painting, 'The Death of Chatterton.'  The Chatterton Manuscript Project goes a little deeper, taking many hundreds of pages and images to tell the full story from original documents.

Introduction to 

The Chatterton Manuscript Project:

Our Aim

To present a complete view of

Chatterton's Life & Works

through Autograph Manuscripts

& Important Early Printings.

The project has grown to include

Biographies & Bibliographies

Associations & Influences

& much more besides.

Bristol, as the birth place of Chatterton,

is entitled, at the very least, to have copies

of all of Chatterton's Manuscripts.

Instead, the manuscripts are hidden away

in the vaults of wealthy Institutions, where ownership rather than education is key.


I am hopeful that The British Library,

who were fortunate to receive

Dr Glynn's bequest, which included 

William Barrett's working papers,

and Chatterton's manuscripts,

appreciates the need to decentralise

by making the provinces central

to their future planning;

too much in one location limits 

our understanding of the past

and undermines a balanced future.

It is 250 years since the BL

got their hands on Chatterton

&, for the moment,

his Manuscripts remain hidden 

(to the vast majority of us).

The people of Bristol look forward to

Thanking the British Library for

Presenting copies of all Chattertonian Manuscripts to commemorate the

250th anniversary of the death

of Chatterton (2020 delayed).

I write this on behalf of all plebeians

who do not have accreditation,

or a letter of introduction

or, indeed, money to waste on

overnight trips to London.

I have appealed to Marvin Rees,

Mayor of Bristol

to join the project & encourage

The British Library to allow

all of Chatterton's Manuscripts

to be photographed for this website;

For all to research & enjoy.

Chatterton's Life & Works

Listed Chronologically along with Manuscripts & Early Printings

Colston's School 

3rd August 1760 - 30th June 1767

Lambert's Apprenticeship

3rd July 1767 - 14th April 1770

Moving to London

24/25th April 1770


25th April - 31st May 1770

Key People during Chatterton's Life

Burgum, Henry

(Pewterer, Musico-Maniac)

Catcott, Alexander Stopford

(Rev., Author)

Catcott, Alexander

(Vicar of Temple, Author)

Key People after August 25th 1770

working on it)

Ireland, William-Henry

 Direct Access to Manuscripts 

Correspondence with Family & Friends

(All Transcripts and Works)

(Maurice Tovy? Gent.)

 A Potted History of Chatterton  

Do you Know Anything

of  the Chatterton Story?

I know it is full of confusion

& conflicting views!

I know he was born in Bristol

I know he did forgeries

and killed himself in London.

  The Beginning & The End All neatly wrapped up!

  ..and so to bed,

Where Chatterton laid his head

  Never to rise again!  

On the night of the 24th August 1770,

Chatterton swallowed a Potion

To cure a commotion

He then laid his head

On the pillow of his pallet bed

He was 12 weeks short

Of his 18th birthday!

But that is not the end

Not even close to the end;

In fact it was the start of it all!

Chatterton became famously famous

Dozens of books were writ

Plays have been played

From Spain to France


From  England to America

Paintings were painted

Engravings were engraved

Pots were turned -it's true, I have one

& Handkerchiefs were printed.

Chatterton was the Talk of the Town

& Country (magazine)

His story went viral worldwide.


A Poor Uneducated Working Class

Charity School Boy Pfft!

Produce such works - What!


He became the Darling of the Romantics

A true Influencer of his own times & beyond.


He Created a Medieval world

Complete with Buildings

& Heroes and Villains &

Adapted the English language

To suit his new World

All without the Help of


Whatever that is!

Although he did have a candle

For those dark evenings

More importantly he was 

A Mother's loving Son

A Cheeky Monkey

A Sister's loving Brother

A Bristowyan

An amazing Poet!

Storyteller, Journalist

Playwright Wit

A Bit of a Wag

Young Villain with Wings.

Our Working-Class Lad had

Exceptional & Extraordinary Abilities

 But we should also note that

His life is as important as his works

 ​For to truly appreciate the song

You must also appreciate the singer!

A Tiny Taste of Tom Chatterton's Works

This is One of his most Famous Works.

Bristows Tragedy or

The Death of Sr Charles Bawdin

 Was printed in the 1776 edition of

'The Annual Register'

Published in 1777.

The American Declaration of Independence.

Appeared in the Same Volume.

annual register 1776 Beauman Books.jpg

A Review of Chatterton's

Life & Works

View pages 155 to 165

Bristows Tragedy

 View pages 211 to 221.

A total of 21 pages for Chatterton.

The Article Covering 

The Declaration of Independence

View pages 261-270

A total of only 10 pages.


A Silly but Fun Fact!

Analyse, Research, Consider & Decide

Is the following Manuscript the original?

Or is it a copy by an unknown hand?

Some people say original, others say copy!

Compare the handwriting - what's your opinion?

This is a good one to investigate & research

Click the image to

Bristows Tragedy Manuscript

Bristows Tragedy

or the Death of Sr Charles Bawdin

was composed by Chatterton in 1768.

Fourteen years after Chatterton died,

his works were still being published as Rowley's.

The following is an example of this.

The Execution of Sir Charles Bawdin

(aka Bristows Tragedy or

the Death of Sr Chairles Bawdin)

It is the first poem in Volume 2. of

 Old Ballads, 1784, by Thomas Evans.


Evans also includes

 The Song to Ella in

Volume 1.

As far as the editor is concerned,

Rowley is the author.

Chatterton is not mentioned in the book.

A new edition of Old Ballads appeared in 1810

but without 'Rowlie's' works.

The editor had realised his mistake.

Thomas Evans 1784.png

Old Ballads by Evans 1784

Volume 1   -   Volume 2