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University Library Special Collections

What are the "special collections"?

The University Library's Special Collections consist of around 15,000 rare and early publications printed in English, German, French and Italian, which date from the 16th century onwards. Items in the Special Collections are included in the University of Warwick library catalogue and have the letters [spc] in their classmarks.

Unlike the main library collections, most books and pamphlets in the University Library Special Collections are not available for loan but can be read in the research area of the Modern Records Centre.


Collections include:

The Marandet Collection of 18th and 19th century French plays:

Nearly 4,000 plays originally acquired by a 19th-century French collector, Amédée Marandet, who was himself an actor and playwright. Nearly half of the plays have been digitised in full, and are available though Warwick Digital Collections. Further information about the collection is included in the website of the School of Modern Languages and Cultures 

The Kitzinger Collection:

A large collection of art history offprints with personal inscriptions to Ernst Kitzinger, influential Harvard Byzantinist and medievalist art historian. All Kitzinger’s other papers are housed in America at the Getty Institute, California; Dumbarton Oaks and Harvard, Mass. Many of these items are book reviews.

The Martin Wright Collection:

A small collection of rare editions of United States and British poetry of the 1960s together with magazines form the collection of Martin Wright. Acquired in 1976 and 1983.

Weiss & Hutton Collections:

The private libraries of two Renaissance scholars, Roberto Weiss and Edward Hutton, were acquired in 1969 and now form an important part of the Central Campus Library’s holdings in Italian history, literature and art. Edward Hutton, a well know amateur scholar in Italian fine art, history and arts during the inter-war period, had a particular interest in the history of the Franciscans. Professor Weiss was Head of the Department of Italian Studies at the University of London and collected in the area of humanism in Italy. The oldest part of the collection comprises over 500 16th, 17th and 18th imprints, including early Venetian editions of Boccaccio. The Boccaccio items have been digitized and can be accessed at Warwick Digital Collections.

The Political Pamphlet Collection (PPC) - political pamphlets from the late 19th century onwards

Special Collections Periodicals - a range of 19th and 20th century periodicals, including 'The Yellow Book' and Charles Dickens' 'Household words'


Rare books:

Law – including The Poor Law Appeals for 1831 and The Magistrate’s Assistant (1807), which deals with the correct conduct for a Justice of the Peace

Art history – including catalogue raisoneés of Cezanne and Daumier and writings on Sir Thomas Lawrence, Turner, Manet and Courbet. Specific titles include Rossetti & his Circle by Max Beerbohm, Blake’s Illustrations for Thornton’ s Virgil and facsimiles of two small sketchbooks of John Constable from 1813 and 1814 which are accompanied by an explanatory volume

Architecture – including books on Peterborough Cathedral, Pershore Abbey Church, the Palace of Westminster and the Houses of Parliament, Kenilworth Castle and more general topics such as Elizabethan architecture, medieval architectural decoration, monuments in Great Britain and views of Paris, as well as writings on architecture by Ruskin (The Poetry of Architecture’ 1803 and The Seven Lamps of Architecture 1883)

Music - including ‘Songs from the Plays of Beaumont & Fletcher’, ‘Anthems of Kings College Chapel’ and published scores of music written by Henry VIII

Fiction, poetry and theatre – including old editions of works by Smollet, Swift, Scott and Goethe. Among items of interest are: a volume of The Shakespeare Society’s Papers (1844), a Biographical Dictionary of the Living Authors of Great Britain and Ireland from 1816 and Leo Tolstoy’ s Pamphlets published in 1901.

Landscape, travel and countries –There are quite a few books on the local area as well as countries as diverse as Rome, Malta, Sicily, Norway, the Antarctic, Spain and Mexico. We even have a copy of the East India Register and Directory (1837)

Dictionaries and encyclopedias – including a Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue published in 1785 and a selection of old dictionaries in English, French and Italian

History – for example we hold Hazlitt’s Political Essays (1819), as well as works such as The Proletarian Revolution in Russia by Lenin and Trotsky (1918) and Underground Russia – Revolutionary Profiles and Sketches from Life by Stepniak (1890)

Tracts and speeches

Memoirs and biographies

Chronicles

Classical civilization

Religion, philosophy, rites and ceremonies


How can I access the Special Collections?

The Special Collections are kept in climate-controlled storage at the Modern Records Centre. MRC staff will be able to retrieve volumes from storage for you to read in the research area if you complete a request form - including details of the author, title and classmark. As the Modern Records Centre is an archive, and holds many unique, irreplaceable documents, all researchers are requested to not have food, drink (including water) or bags at their desks when studying (lockers are available).

Although some items from Special Collections can be photocopied, fragile items or books that could potentially be damaged by the photocopier (e.g. have the spine broken) may not be. It is, however, possible to photograph relevant sections (without flash).

If you would like to visit to study a Special Collections item, please check the Modern Records Centre's opening times.