William Gell Personal Papers

The personal papers of Sir William Gell (1777-1836) held by the British School at Athens consist of six notebooks most likely produced between 1801 and 1810 while he was travelling with Edward Dodwell and in Greece and Asia Minor. These notebooks were acquired in 1923 by Thomas Ashby, Director of the British School at Rome, from a dealer in Naples, the same source as the Craven sketchbook (see Keppel Craven Personal Papers). Ashby offered the Gell notebooks pertaining to Greece to the BSA via its then Director, Arthur M. Woodward, in 1924. They were accessioned into the Library at that time and later moved to the BSA Archive when it was officially established.

Soon after their acquisition, the Gell notebooks were described by Woodward in two articles in the Annual of the British School at Athens (‘Some Note-Books of William Gell’ 1925-26 ABSA 27: 67-80 and 1926-27 ABSA 28: 107-127). The six notebooks include two sketchbooks: one dedicated to marble architectural elements, particularly acroteria, and the other miscellaneous sketches. The remaining notebooks contain itineraries, compass-bearings (‘angles’), transcriptions of inscriptions and occasional sketches. Of these, one contains information later used in Gell's 1819 publication, Itinerary of Greece, another describes Gell’s journey to Smyrna and other parts of Asia Minor. In 2008 the Gell notebooks were displayed in the exhibition, ‘Grecian Taste and Roman Spirit: The Society of Dilettanti’, at the Getty Villa of The J. Paul Getty Museum, who also funded the digitization of all six notebooks.