Thomas J. Wise: a Brief Survey of his Literary Forgeries

Thomas J. Gearty Jr.

The Courier. Syracuse University Library Associates, Volume XI, number 1.


Wise was a renowned bibliographer and book collector of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, as well as a reviewer and editor of The Bookman's "Notes." He was held in high esteem by his contemporaries, and was accepted in literary and intellectual circles as a respected scholar. He was president of The Bibliographical Society from 1922 to 1924, and in 1926 received an honorary Master of Arts degree from Oxford University. His library is kept intact in a room off the King's Library Gallery in the British Museum. But Thomas J. Wise also was a forger and a thief who stole leaves from books in the collection of the British Museum. David Foxon4 sur~ised that Wise began the thefts in the 1890s to replace leaves missing from books in his own collection. Then, when he began to supply John Henry Wrenn, an American collector and friend of Wise, with plays from the Jacobean and Caroline periods and from the Commonwealth nterregnum, he took more leaves to complete the copies supplied to Wrenn. Most of the leaves stolen from museum copies which Wrenn received were acquired by him between August 1901 and July 1903.