George Howell Archive Cataloguing Project Update: August 2006

The George Howell Archive Cataloguing Project began with work on the numerous letters received by Howell during the period 1864-1910. Hundreds of items of correspondence relating to the world of business and politics in which he moved have already been catalogued, some examples of typical items being shown below. The photographs in the collection, comprising mainly of portraits of Howell’s friends, associates and family, have also now been scanned and catalogued and shall be available online as part of the Howell Archive Catalogue upon its launch in Summer 2007.

George Washington Taviner Howell (1859-1880)Photograph of George Washington Taviner Howell
(5 October 1874)

The adjacent photograph features George Washington Taviner Howell, the only son of George Howell and his wife Dorcas. The younger George appears to have been the focus of many fond fatherly aspirations and it can be imagined that Howell had envisioned years of vicarious success through his son’s career, long into his own retirement. There is a sad irony in the inscription found on the reverse of this picture, which expresses a hope that “the next portrait will be a man’s”: George was to die in August 1880 just two months prior to his 21st birthday, a loss which his adoring parents felt very deeply.

Letter from Henry Crompton (7 September 1880)Letter from Henry Crompton to George Howell (7 September 1880)

Henry Crompton, a prominent barrister and positivist of the mid to late nineteenth century, wrote in September 1880 after the death of Howell's son. He offers his sympathies and support as a friend, praising the young man highly as being both “charming and promising”. It is perhaps particularly striking to find such a sensitive letter, which focusses on the emotional matter of the death of a family member, in the midst of so much formal correspondence regarding the political, business and legal matters in which Howell was routinely involved.




Letter from Charles Lever (26 November 1885)Letter from Charles Lever to George Howell
(26 November 1885)

Howell was employed as London business agent to a Manchester Coal Merchant named Ellis Lever between 1880 and 1885, and it is to be imagined that the Charles Lever who writes to Howell to congratulate him on his successful election, was a relation of his Northern employer.

Howell made numerous unsuccessful attempts to get into Parliament and it was only after 17 years’ campaigning that he finally succeeded in becoming M.P. for the new constituency of North-East Bethnal Green. He held the seat until 1895 when he suffered a defeat at the hands of the Indian politician, Sir Mancherjee Merwanjee Bhownaggree. The accompanying letter makes light of the long period during which Howell attempted to become a Member of Parliament and sincerely congratulates him on the long-awaited commencement of his political career.

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