The Romantic poet and essayist Leigh Hunt (19 October 1784 – 28 August 1859) kept a scrapbook of famous people’s hair, many of them friends of his, including the social commentator William Hazlitt and poets Charles Lamb and Percy Bysshe Shelley. I note by John Milton’s locks, Hunt muses that hair is a sign of eternal love, a “blossom from the tree”.
The collection includes hair from 21 authors and statesmen in part derived from Dr. Samuel Johnson’s friend John Hoole. The book includes hair from John Keats, Robert Browning, William Wordsworth, Jonathan Swift, John Milton, Mary Shelley, George Washington and Napoleon.
The hair was owned by the Hunt family until 1921, when it was sold at Sotheby’s and purchased by Mrs. Miriam Lutcher Stark, who in turn gave it to The University of Texas at Austin.
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