The George Finlay Collection was presented to the British School at Athens in 1899, by Mr. William Henry Cooke, George Finlay’s nephew and his sole surviving executor. It quickly became the nucleus of the School’s library, archive and museum collection and has provided a rich source of information. The Finlay Room, the common room in the School’s hostel, houses part of Finlay’s own library.
The Finlay archival collection contains notebooks, personal journals, personal and official correspondence spanning a period of fifty years, for Finlay kept meticulous records of his travels, personal acquaintances and expenditure, copious memoranda on strategy and on military and political organisation, journal entries, maps, facetiae, scrapbooks, personal notes on people—Greeks and others—and on revolutionary events, as well as newspaper cuttings mainly on Greece and international affairs. It also contains corrected proofs of Finlay’s published works including the original manuscripts of the History of the Greek Revolution (1861).
Also included in the collection are the papers of Finlay’s father, John, and those of his fellow-philhellene Captain Frank Abney Hastings, which had come into Finlay’s possession when he purchased them in 1830. The Hastings collection includes personal and official correspondence, ship’s logs, notes that he took on board or (more rarely) ashore, as well as memoranda on strategy and on the naval organisation of the revolutionary forces.
Collectively, these archives reveal a great deal about the character, motivations, ideas, as well as the military and political judgements of these British individuals, as well as of many others, both British and Greek, with whom they interacted. Although the Finlay collection has been used, to some extent, by scholars of Philhellenism, Hastings’ papers (with a few exceptions) have been understudied, and are very little known within Greece.
Overall, the full importance of this collection has never yet been given the attention that it deserves. Up to 1973 when Joan M. Hussey classified and catalogued the material, it was difficult for scholars to go through it and even more difficult to provide precise references when using some of it. By updating this catalogue to be in line with international archive standards, by converting it to a digital format, and by digitising a significant part of the collection, our vision is to make the Finlay digital collection the vehicle for further study on Philhellenism and the Greek Revolution.
The link to the digital archive will be posted here in due time.
Hussey, J. M. (1973), The Finlay Papers: A Catalogue, The British School at Athens. Supplementary Volumes, 9: i-vi, 1-200, also as Hussey, J. M. (1973), The Finlay Papers. A Catalogue, London: Thames and Hudson.
Hussey, J. M. (1975), ‘George Finlay in Perspective: A Centenary Reappraisal’, The Annual of the British School at Athens, 70: pp. 135-144.
Hussey, J. M. (ed.) (1995), The Journals and Letters of George Finlay, 2 Vols. Surrey: Porphyrogenitus.
Miller, W. (1924), ‘The Finlay Papers’, English Historical Review, 39: 386-98
Finlay, G. (1877), A History of Greece from its Conquest by the Romans to the Present Time BC 146 to AD 1864, 7 Vols. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Finlay, G. (1861), History of the Greek Revolution, 2 vols, Edinburgh and London: William Blackwood and Sons.