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 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. The letters in volume one cover the early years of Renouf's life, including his time as an undergraduate at Oxford, and as a tutor at Oscott. They include much colourful chitchat about fellow students and teachers; but they also reveal the reaction of a clever and serious young undergraduate to the intellectual and spiritual excitement of the Oxford Movement. Renouf had already published a theological pamphlet in his 19th year. The study of Arabic, Ethiopic, Hebrew and Syriac would influence his future career more profoundly than he could possibly have guessed in these early years. At Oxford and Oscott he came in contact with many prominent Victorians, including Newman, Frederick William Faber, Pugin, Pusey, Wiseman, Lord John Manners, and Ambrose Lisle Phillipps.
"Professor Cathcart has edited this volume of letters with meticulous care, supplying exact and illuminating explanatory notes and providing a very useful set of biographies of people mentioned in the correspondence. There is an excellent index and the standard of production by the University College Dublin Press is faultless. The next three volumes are eagerly awaited."
V. Alan McClelland Recusant History 26 (2) 2002
"Editing, typography and production are first class and confident."
Books Ireland 2002
"Volume 1 is attractively produced, with biographical notes on virtually all the people with whom Renouf corresponded or about whom he wrote in the years up to 1846."
La Societe Guernesiaise Report and Transactions Feb 2003
"In view of the considerable interest of the material presented in the volumes published so far, and the expertise with which their editor has presented it to us, one looks forward with anticipation to the appearance of the two remaining volumes."
Les Iles de la Manche Dec 2003
"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