Guide to the Research Collections

- Section -- II: -- THE HUMANITIES
- PART TWO
- 24 -- ENGLISH LITERATURE
- SIGNIFICANT HOLDINGS IN ENGLISH LITERATURE

SIGNIFICANT HOLDINGS IN ENGLISH LITERATURE

The Westmoreland Manuscript of the poems of John Donne in the Berg Collection is one of the most important sources for the textual study of Donne's poetry. In an unidentified hand, it may have been presented by the poet to his friend Rowland Woodward about 1619.

The Rare Book Division's first five editions of Izaak Walton's The Compleat Angler (initially printed in 1653) form part of an extensive collection of editions of the book published in England and the United States. The first four editions are available in the Berg Collection as well.

The Arents Tobacco Collection has examples of the first eight editions of Robert Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy; the collection's copy of the fifth edition (1638) is apparently the only extant copy with a printed and engraved title page. The larger part of the Burton holdings came from the Holbrook Jackson collection, together with a group of manuscripts, typescripts, and extracts from periodicals and booksellers' catalogs relating to the book which had been accumulated by Jackson.

The Arents Tobacco Collection contains the manuscripts of Acts I and II of Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest, typescripts of Acts I, III, and IV, and a 74-page corrected typescript of the entire play. The marginal notes and corrections in Wilde's hand are of particular interest. A selection from these materials has been published in facsimile.4

Both the Harkness and Montague collections in the Manuscripts and Archives Division contain a number of literary autographs of English authors. Included are Matthew Arnold, Charlotte Brontė, the Brownings, Marie Corelli, Dickens, Austin Dobson, Kipling, D.H. Lawrence, Pope, and others, along with literary manuscripts of Carlyle and Thackeray.

Important English literary holdings found in the Berg Collection include an archive of Arnold Bennett printed and manuscript material;5 the correspondence of the firm of Richard Bentley, amounting to more than 600 letters from Dickens, Wilkie Collins, Charles Reade, and others; a strong collection of Browning materials; extensive printed and manuscript holdings for Joseph Conrad; important editions and association copies of C.L. Dodgson (Lewis Carroll); Gissing materials including his diary for the years 1887-1902, literary manuscripts, and presentation copies of his works;6 and an extensive John Masefield archive.7

The Edward Marsh papers, consisting of 5,600 letters and manuscripts from leading figures in English literary, artistic, music, drama, social, and political circles during the first half of this century, were acquired in 1957 by the Berg Collection.8 Other figures represented include D.H. Lawrence, T.E. Lawrence, Mrs. Patrick Campbell, Noėl Coward, Sir Jacob Epstein, the Sitwells, Thornton Wilder, H.W. Fowler, and Marcel Proust.

The Berg Collection owns the corrected typescript of T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land in 57 leaves with substantial revisions by Ezra Pound.9 With this manuscript are 56 loose leaves and a bound notebook containing holograph and typescript poems dated from 1909 onward. These Eliot materials, which contain a sizable number of unpublished poems, came to the library as part of the John Quinn memorial collection.10

The Irish Literary Renaissance

The purchase of Lady Gregory's papers by the Berg Collection in 1964 brought the library books, letters, photographs, and manuscripts from the personal archive of a central figure of the twentieth-century Irish literary revival. Lady Gregory's manuscript journal for the years 1915-32, in 45 volumes, holds a wealth of information on the political events of the day, as well as literary and artistic matters. There are 757 letters from Lady Gregory to William Butler Yeats, and hundreds of letters to other eminent figures in the arts, politics, and society.11 First editions of the work of John Millington Synge, Sean O'Casey, George Moore, and Bernard Shaw are included in the archive: in addition are manuscripts, corrected typescripts, and proofs of Irish authors. Yeats is perhaps most notably represented; also included is the typescript of Synge's Riders to the Sea. Numerous fragments of Diarmuid and Grania, a projected collaboration of Yeats, George Moore, and Lady Gregory, are also included.

James Stephens was well represented in the Berg Collection even before the Lady Gregory purchase. Some 270 letters and a substantially complete run of first editions supplement numerous

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literary manuscripts, including the original holograph of The Crock of Gold in 6 notebooks.

The Sean O'Casey archive acquired by the Berg Collection in 1968 includes holograph notebooks, typescripts (almost all in a number of versions with a considerable amount of unpublished material), and corrected page and galley proofs.12 Among the works represented are O'Casey's major plays, The Silver Tassie, Within the Gates, The Star Turns Red, Red Roses for Me, and The Drums of Father Ned; his one-act plays; 6 autobiographical books; and poetry, particularly for the volume Windfalls. There is also the manuscript of his unpublished and unproduced play The Harvest Festival, written in 1918-19.

The John Quinn memorial collection, presented to the Manuscripts and Archives Division of the library between 1962 and 1968, reflects Quinn's years of friendship with members of the Irish Literary Renaissance and the Irish Home Rule movement. In this gift are letters from Lady Gregory, George W. Russell, Douglas Hyde, William Butler Yeats and members of the Yeats family, James Joyce, and other important literary and political figures.