Sir Peter le Page Renouf (1822-97), a Guernseyman, was described by Lord Acton as 'the most learned Englishman I know'. The remarkable collection of his surviving letters, published in four volumes by University College Dublin Press between 2002 and 2004, covers Renouf's varied career from his days as a student in Oxford, his time as a lecturer in the 1850s at the new Catholic University in Dublin until after his retirement as Keeper of Egyptian and Assyrian Antiquities at the British Museum. This fourth and final volume covers Renouf's life in London from 1864 until his death in 1897. For 22 years he worked as an Inspector of Schools, mostly in the district of the Tower Hamlets. He kept up his research in Egyptology and in this volume there are many letters from his academic colleagues on the Continent. In the family correspondence there are some tantalising glimpses of the progress of the Renouf children Louis and Edith through Cambridge into adult life. In 1886 Renouf's life changed dramatically when he was appointed Keeper of Egyptian and Assyrian Antiquities at the British Museum.He became very unhappy when the Trustees insisted that he should retire at the end of 1891 and in the letters there are frequent references to efforts to have his grievances addressed. His bitterness towards his former assistant and eventual successor, E. Wallis Budge, pervades the letters in the final years of his life.
- I Biographies of People Mentioned in the Letters
"This four volume collection of letters is now complete and will be a lasting monument to Renouf ... Professor Cathcart applies his scholarship with great attention to the details of matters ecclesiastical as well as Egyptylogical ... the writer of the letter is identified, the text to each letter is set out and notes appear at its foot ... each volume commences with a biography of Renouf and ends with a list of brief lives of the principal correspondents or of individuals who are referred to in the letters. The work is printed on good quality paper and the typeface is clear and attractive. The production is a credit to the publishers, the University College Dublin Press."
Geoffrey Allez, La Societe Guernesiaise Report and Transactions XXV (4) 2004
"Professor Cathcart, in these four volumes of letters has presented a clear, endurable and credible picture of an important figure who touched in many ways the varied moods of the nineteenth century. He has supplied a fine introduction, unobtrusive notes, full biographies of all correspondents, a useful bibliography of source material and a user-friendly index. It is a model of how a collection of letters should be presented."
A. Alan McClelland Recusant History 2007