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One of the first pilot projects of the John Rylands Research Institute has centred upon the archive of Samuel Alexander (1859-1938), Professor of Philosophy at Owens College (later to become The University of Manchester), from 1893 until 1924. Alexander was undoubtedly Manchester’s most famous and influential philosopher. In 1925 his contribution to the University was recognized by the presentation of a bust, sculpted by Jacob Epstein, which still stands in the building that now bears his name.

Bust of Samuel Alexander by Jacob Epstein, in the foyer of the Samuel Alexander Building, University of Manchester

Bust of Samuel Alexander by Jacob Epstein, in the foyer of the Samuel Alexander Building, University of Manchester.

The JRRI project, led by Helen Beebee, the current Samuel Hall Professor of Philosophy, brought two visiting researchers to the Library – Dr Anthony Fisher and Dr Emily Thomas – to study the Alexander Papers. Dr Fisher has since been awarded a prestigious two-year Newton International Fellowship to study Alexander’s metaphysics of spacetime and other aspects of his philosophy.

One of the main outputs of the JRRI pilot project is a website dedicated to Alexander and his archive. The site contains images and full transcriptions of some of the most important letters in the archive, including correspondence with C.D. Broad and Bertrand Russell, as well as biographical information on Alexander, and further information on the research project.

A detailed catalogue of the Samuel Alexander Papers is available on Elgar.

John Hodgson