When people come to Hornbake to explore our Literature and Rare Books collection they are often viewing our works from a historical or literary perspective. While it’s true that students studying history and English can find a wealth of resources in our collections collection, the same is equally true for students in STEM. Whether you study biology, astronomy, engineering, or math you can find early texts on those subjects in Rare Books. And it’s now easier than ever with a new libguide on STEM in Rare Books!Continue reading
As we come back from winter break, you may be looking for something to keep you in the holiday spirit. Well there’s no better place to look than the Carolyn Davis collection of Louisa May Alcott! You can now view and request individual items from this collection through the updated finding aid, making it easier than ever to access these timeless stories.
The Carolyn Davis collection of Louisa May Alcott contains numerous editions of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, including everything from a first edition copy of the novel, a Danish translation, an edition from 1995, and more! Seeing how Little Women has been interpreted throughout time and across countries can allow you to experience this classic story in new ways. The Carolyn Davis collection also contains other works by Alcott such as Hospital Sketches and Rose in Bloom and works about Alcott and her family.Continue reading
What do anarchism, science fiction, women’s rights, and Romanticism have in common? One family! William Godwin, Mary Wollstonecraft, Mary Shelley, and Percy Shelley wrote in different genres but the writings of all four continue to provoke thought and provide enjoyment centuries later. You can learn more about this fascinating family by viewing their works in Hornbake Library’s Literature and Rare Books collection!
William Godwin was a British philosopher, novelist, and a radical critic of British government and society in the 18th and 19th centuries. Godwin was a proponent of utilitarianism and anarchism, and many of the radical critiques of these schools of thought can be found in his writings. For example in St. Leon: A Tale of the Sixteenth Century Godwin ponders the value of the aristocracy and questions what truly makes people free.
In 1797, Godwin married Mary Wollstonecraft. Like Godwin, Wollstonecraft was an author and philosopher. Wollstonecraft is best known for writing a Vindication of the Rights of Women, a work that was highly influential on the early women’s rights movement. In Vindication, Wollstonecraft argues that a lack of education, rather than inherent differences due to sex, is what prevents women from achieving the same things as men. You can find both the 1794 edition and the 1796 edition in the Literature and Rare Books collection.
Godwin and Wollstonecraft had one daughter, Mary. Wollstonecraft died shortly after Mary’s birth and Mary was raised by her father and step-mother. At age 16, Mary met the Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. Percy, despite his aristocratic birth, was a follower of Godwin’s radical political views. Despite the fact that Percy was already married, the two fell in love and fled along with Mary’s stepsister, Claire, to Switzerland.
In Switzerland, Mary would write Frankenstein, her best known work. Hornbake has several fascinating editions of Frankenstein such as a specialty edition given out to the armed forces during World War II and an edition featuring engravings from the acclaimed artist Lynd Ward.
While Frankenstein is what Mary is most well known for, she continued to write in a variety of genres after it was published. Her novel Lodore follows a widow and her daughter as they struggle to find their way in a patriarchal culture after the death of her husband. Mary also wrote a travel narrative, Rambles in Germany and Italy in 1840, 1842, and 1843.
Mary’s literary output also included editing her husband Percy Bysshe Shelley’s works after his passing. Mary edited volumes of Percy’s poetry that were published in 1824, 1839, 1840, 1854, and 1892. Hornbake’s Rare Books collection also includes works that were published before Shelley’s death such as Posthumous Fragments of Margaret Nicholson, The Revolt of Islam: A Poem, in Twelve Cantos, and Rosalind and Helen: A Modern Eclogue: With Other Poems.
Literature and Rare Books in Special Collection and University Archives is a rich resource of works black artists and writers. Explore these items in our new subject guide on Black Writers and Artists!
Non-fiction writing by black authors covers a wide variety of topics, including pamphlets on politics, racism, activism, and culture in our African American and African pamphlet collection. The subject guide also highlights fiction ranging from children’s books by Chinua Achebe to literary masterpieces by writers such as James Baldwin. Contributions of black artists and printers to other parts of the bookmaking process, such as illustrators like Cledie Taylor and black owned presses like the Broadside Press, are also included.Continue reading
While summer may mean the end of the school year, you can still explore library resources from home! If you have some spare time, explore hidden gems in Special Collections and University Archives like the Early Printed and Manuscript Leaf collection. The collection consists of printed and illuminated manuscript leaves from Europe dated from the 12th -16th centuries and includes some of the oldest items in Hornbake Library. There are a total of 70 whole and partial leaves, representing a variety of styles and techniques that serve as a sampling of early print and manuscript book history.Continue reading
Even if you have never studied literature you are likely familiar with authors like Ralph Waldo Emerson or Charles Dickens. While these authors may have written in different styles and about different subject matter, they were among the most notable authors of the 19th century. To learn more about Emerson, Dickens, and other notable writers of the 19th century take a look at our new libguide on 19th Century Literature!
The libguide draws attention to some of the main collecting areas for Literature and Rare Books, such as illustrated works. Hornbake’s holdings include a variety of different kinds of illustrated works that were popular in the 19th century, from scientific illustrations (Thomas Bewick’s woodcut portrayals of animals) to satirical illustrations (Punch Magazine). The libguide also features highlights from our collection of 19th century literature, such as books published by Kelmscott Press, which reacted against the consumerism and mass production of the late 19th century by producing expensive, high quality books that doubled as works of art.Continue reading
Until UMD Libraries are able to reopen, digital copies of books are one of the best ways to take advantage of library resources. Through modern technology you can now access some of the oldest and most fascinating items in the Literature and Rare Books collection.
The Internet Archive includes digitized copies of some of the highlights from Hornbake’s collection of Early Modern Books. One notable item is the digitized copy of the Biblia Sacra, a Bible published in Latin in 1516. The Biblia Sacra contains excellent woodcut illustrations of biblical stories such as Noah’s Ark or Moses and the Ten Commandments, as well as annotations made by previous readers.
Interested in French history and language? Explore digitized items from our French Pamphlet collection online! The entire collection spans from 1620 to 1966 and contains pamphlets on a variety of topics, covering everything from religion to science to the economy.
The most significant portion of the collection is on politics and social issues in France, particularly the French Revolution. The collection includes the Déclaration des Droits de l’Homme et du Citoyen, one of the most important civil rights documents of the French Revolution. The Déclaration espoused the principle of popular sovereignty and that all citizens were equal in the eyes of the law. The collection also includes pamphlets opposing the revolution, such as Le de Profundis de la Noblesse et du Clergé.
We may be self-isolating for the time being, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t travel the world! If you want to learn more about German history and culture, visit the Internet Archive to view digitized items from the University of Maryland’s collection of German books and periodicals.
This digital collection of 29 items spans from 1832 to 1923 and includes a variety of topics. With works on subjects as diverse as the Napoleonic Wars, the Dada movement, bacteriology, art and architecture, World War I, and German poetry, there is something for everyone!Continue reading
A new exhibit in the Maryland Room celebrates rare books that share a common physical attribute – their unique format. Specifically their shape and size! Thin and thick. Big and small. Folio. Miniature. Quadragesimo-Octavo. From the tiniest book in our collections that can be held in the palm of a hand to larger works that require two people to move, these books showcase the variety of shapes and sizes utilized by bookmakers over the centuries.
Physical attributes such as book dimensions raise compelling questions for those interested in book history. For example: Why did the printer choose such a small format? Who is the intended audience for a massive book? How does size affect the experience of reading a book? Format and size has an impact on price, accessibility, and construction of a book. Along with other physical attributes, it is an important element to examine when investigating the history and usage of a rare book.
Three exhibit cases in the Maryland Room contain oversize and miniature books dated from the 1400s to the 1900s, all part of the Rare Books collection in Special Collections and University Archives. The oldest item, featuring an impossibly small font meticulously lettered by hand, is a vellum manuscript leaf from Italy, dated 15th century. It measures roughly 4 inches high (including large page margins). On display alongside the illuminated manuscript leaf is a miniature edition of the Reliquiae sacrae Carolinae. Or, the works of that great monarch and glorious martyr King Charles the I , printed in Hague in 1657.Continue reading