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!
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.
The Aim of the
Chatterton Manuscript Project:
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.
This is an enormous task
made more difficult by Bureaucracy
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.
Not least of these is The British Library;
They were fortunate to receive
Dr Glynn's bequest, which included
William Barrett's working papers,
and Chatterton's manuscripts.
Now 250 years later
& the 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 Bristolians
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 intervene on behalf of Bristol
& persuade the BL to allow all of
To be photographed for this website;
For all to research & enjoy.
Join me and help fulfil the Promise
Chatterton Manuscript Project.
The Chatterton Manuscript Project is in continuous development; so do not be surprised if clicking an item sometimes fails to produce a document. This is mainly because most of the originals are held by the British Library who are loathe to allow them to be photographed and reproduced here - so they remain hidden and Bristol be damned!.
This website is provided by Wix, which only allows 100 pages per site; this is simply not enough for the Chatterton Manuscript Project; for this reason I also use Google Docs to present some of the manuscripts - hence the website is best viewed on a laptop or PC (but works well on mobiles too!).
All of the Titles in Blue are Clickable
Manuscripts & First Printings
with Chatterton's Life
Key People: 18th c.
(working on it)
Burgum, Henry. Pewterer, Musico-Maniac F2
Catcott, Alexander Stopford, Rev, Author F3
Catcott, Alexander. Vicar of Temple, Author F4
(working on it)
Names in Chatterton's Works
(working on it)
Direct Access to Manuscripts
George Symes Catcott - All Transcripts and Works
Quality of Ms. Images
The Project website is
primarily designed for
PC or Laptop.
I use Google Docs
to display most Ms. images
Images of Manuscripts
are high quality
to allow close-up viewing.
On Tablet or Mobile
Select the Desktop option
If you need any help do
let me know Contact.
Yours, &c. to the end of the chapter .QE.
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
RPG or CGI
Whatever that is!
Although he did have a candle
For those dark evenings
More importantly he was
A Mother's Son
A Cheeky Monkey
A Sister's Brother
One of Chatterton's Most Famous Works.
Bristows Tragedy or
The Death of Sr Charles Bawdin
Was published in the 1776 edition of
'The Annual Register'
The American Declaration of Independence.
Appeared in the Same Volume.
Bristows Tragedy or
the Death of Sr Charles Bawdin
was composed by Chatterton in 1768.
The BIG question:
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 read more...
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
is the first poem in Volume 2. of
Old Ballads, 1784, by Thomas Evans.
Evans goes further and includes
The Song to Ella in
Chatterton is not mentioned in either volume.
A new edition of Old Ballads appeared in 1810
but without 'Rowlie's' works.
Was A loving Son and Brother,
With an "Accelerated Mentality"
(a 1920s Bristolian phrase?).
It is clear that our Working-Class Lad had
Exceptional and 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!
It is time to reclaim Chatterton
An amazing young poet,
A bit of a Wag