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Rare Books

Literature & Languages

The Rare Books Collection features books from nearly every period in British and American literature, as well as a smattering of foreign language items (the teaching team has successfully hosted a variety of French, Spanish, and German literature classes). The tabs to the left focus on a particular strength of the Collections: British literature of the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries. However, even these treasures only represent a corner of the items available. Other specialties include:

  • British literature of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Past classes on Victorian literature, Dickens, and Romanticism have enjoyed these collections, especially a large and beautiful John Keats collection, the famous 1831 edition of Frankenstein, and a first edition of Dracula.
  • Early American literature, including various editions of influential works like Charlotte Temple and Uncle Tom's Cabin, artists' books featuring Edgar Allan Poe, and first editions of the Autobiography of Frederick Douglass. Visiting classes often view these books alongside manuscript items from the Louisiana and Lower Mississippi Valley Collection. 
  • The Day Collection of African American Poetry, acquired 2022, represents the newest strength in our literary holdings.
  • Exquisite editions of the literary classics by the fine presses of the early twentieth century, such as the Kelmscott Press and the Golden Cockerel Press.
  • Early printed editions of Dante, along with elaborately illustrated facsimiles of even earlier editions.

To learn more about any of these topics, please search the library catalog or contact John Miles, Curator of Rare Books.

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