Douce, Francis


Douce, Francis
(1757-1834).
   Although he studied for the law, he did not practise long as his lifelong passion for literary research soon prevailed. For a time he was keeper of manuscripts at the British Museum, which gave him access to such key sources as the Lansdowne and Harleian collections. Although he only published one major study, and that a literary one, Douce's name is cited as a major influence by all the leading figures of the generation of antiquarian-folklorists which emerged in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Everybody knew him and was grateful for his help - he lent books and manuscripts from his own vast collection, answered queries, introduced people to others, suggested lines of enquiry and annotated collections. *Brand, *Strutt, *Thoms, *Hone, *Ellis, all proclaim their debt, and he also worked with Irish and Scottish folklore writers such as Thomas Keightley and Sir Walter Scott. Douce's one major publication, Illustrations of Shakespeare and of Ancient Manners (1807), set the scene for a generation of Shakespearian scholars, such as *Halliwell, who would comb early books and manuscripts for elucidatory material, and turn up a great deal of folklore in the process.
   ■ DNB; Dorson, 1968: 57-61.

A Dictionary of English folklore. . 2014.

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