Canadian Literature


The collection constitutes part of the personal library of the Canadian poet Ralph Gustafson (1909-1995). He began to collect seriously during the Second World War as part of his work on an anthology, the Penguin Book of Canadian Verse. The collection was acquired in 1991 and has been kept as a unit. It consists of volumes of Canadian poetry covering the century, or so, from roughly 1880 to 1980. It is rich in presentation and association copies and contains most of the rarest books of Canadian verse since the time of the Confederation poets. The rarities include W.W.E. Ross's Sonnets and Laconics, Dorothy Livesay's Green Pitcher, and virtually complete runs of the books by F.R. Scott, John Glassco, Louis Dudek, Irving Layton and others. There are some 2000 titles.

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The collection was formed in 1946 from Stephen Leacock's bequest of his literary manuscripts and a gift of Leacock books from the Montreal book collector Norman H. Friedman. It comprises 265 monographs; 53 portraits and drawings; 2.1 linear metres of literary manuscripts. The collection includes first, variant and signed editions of Leacock's works; periodical articles by Leacock; books about Leacock; books owned by Leacock, photographs and portraits. The manuscripts include drafts of many of his books and articles as well as some correspondence both to and from Leacock.

Description: Bruce Whiteman, "Leacock Remains at McGill", Fontanus VII (1994), 11-14. The manuscripts are described under Canadian Literature in the Manuscript section.

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The first accession of the library of the Canadian poet and lawyer F.R. Scott (1899-1985) came in 1988, the gift of Mrs. Marian Scott. The library contains volumes of Canadian (English and French), American and English poetry from the 1920s to the 1980s, and much fiction, belles-lettres, non-Canadian literature, and books on political and social issues. The second accession of books, mainly on English literature and politics, was received in 1994. Included are Marianne Moore's Poems (1921, her first book), many titles by T.S. Eliot, W.H. Auden, Edith Sitwell, and a run of the 1930s Paris review Transition. The library demonstrates the breadth of Scott's intellectual, political and literary interests. There are about 3000 titles.

Description: Bruce Whiteman, "The F.R. Scott Library", Fontanus II (1989), 97-101.

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The general rare book collection is particularly strong in its holdings of Canadian poetry. The poetry collection of W.D. Lighthall, donated in 1912, included some 105 volumes of Canadian verse that he used in the preparation of his Songs of the Great Dominion (1889). Many of the volumes are presentation copies and contain inscriptions, annotations and letters. The works of many lesser Canadian poets and versifiers have been added in recent years. Nineteenth- and early twentieth-century fiction is also well represented. Of particular note are the long runs of novels by Sara Jeannette Duncan, May Agnes Fleming and Frank L. Packard among others.

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English Literature


The collection was established in 1953, the nucleus being the two hundred and fifty items donated by Dr. Lawrence Lande. It has been added to regularly. The collection includes first, early and variant editions of William Blake's literary works and his illustrations for books by Blair (The Grave), Young (Night Thoughts) and others. As well, there are facsimiles of Blake's coloured works; original engravings by Blake and his school; and editions of works by his friends and followers such as Fuseli, Palmer and Calvert. There is also modern criticism of Blake. There are some 1601 books and serials, 1173 slides, 53 engravings, 21 drawings; 36 reproductions, etc.

Description: A Catalogue of the Lawrence Lande William Blake Collection in the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections of the McGill University Libraries. Montreal: McLennan Library, 1983.

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The 52 titles in this collection include many first and early editions of Burton's works. A number of the volumes have the bookplate of the Canadian financier Sir George Stephen, Bart (Lord Mount Stephen, 1829-1921). Other titles and editions of Burton's works are in the general rare book collection.

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In 1991 the Department acquired this Thomas Chatterton Collection containing books by and about the English poet Thomas Chatterton (1752-1770). The collection of forty-nine items includes first editions of The Auction: A Poem (1770), The Execution of Sir Charles Bawdin (1772) and The Revenge (1795); and a copy of the second edition of the Poems, Supposed to Have Been Written at Bristol, By Thomas Rowley (1778 the first and third were already among the Department's holdings). As well, there is a copy of Sir Herbert Croft's scarce novel Love and Madness (3rd ed., 1780) which prints some of Chatterton's letters; several books and pamphlets on the Rowley controversy; and many later editions of Chatterton's poems, as well as biographical and critical works.

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The collection was acquired in 1992 from an American family that had been friends of Walter de la Mare (1873-1956). The collection includes most of Walter de la Mare's published writings, often in multiple editions; in many cases the dust jacket is present. Many of the volumes are author's presentation copies. The collection includes 135 titles, 89 letters from de la Mare, 3 photographic portraits and numerous offprints.

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The nucleus of the collection was given to the library in 1946 by the Montreal book collector Norman H. Friedman. To this was added the library's holdings of Kipling and subsequent purchases. The collection of some 1541 items includes first, early, variant and collected editions of Kipling's works. As well, single issues of periodicals containing articles and stories by Kipling are in the collection. Other material includes scrapbooks of clippings by and about Kipling, some secondary works including bibliographies; a manuscript Traffics and Discoveries (1904) and autograph letters.

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The Hannah More collection includes many early and later editions of the English religious writer's more important works on education and morals as well as many of the minor items such as plays and poetry. There is a run of thirty-five of the first printing of Cheap Repository Tracts, sixteen of which are by More (1745-1833) as well as a prospectus for the Tracts and later printings of the Tracts. Other holdings include a copy of Elizabeth Montagu, An Essay on the Writings and Genius of Shakespear fifth edition (1785) with a presentation inscription from the author to Hannah More in More's hand. Autograph letters by More and her sisters are held in the Manuscript Collection.

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The D.H. Lawrence collection, some sixty titles, is particularly rich in first, early and variant editions. There is also early criticism.

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The collection was purchased in 1970 from the collector Thomas Judson Jackson of Carbondale, Illinois. It includes early and variant editions of Malcolm Lowry's published works and translations of Under the Volcano. As well, there are books and periodicals containing contributions by Lowry; books by his wife and books and periodicals mentioning him or containing reviews and criticism. There is correspondence between the Canadian poet Earle Birney and Thomas J. Jackson concerning the preparation of a bibliography (unpublished) of Lowry's work (1966-1970). There are some 360 items in the collection.

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The collection was formed by the Montreal book collector Norman H. Friedman and given to McGill in 1946. It includes some 450 first, early, signed and variant editions of books by Morley (1890-1957) and books to which he contributed.

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The collection was purchased in 1954 and includes over four hundred books on Shakespeare, his plays and the Elizabethan theatre; and some two hundred pamphlets, reviews, transcripts of lectures, magazine articles and brochures, for the years between 1850 and 1950. The collection is complemented and supplemented by the Department's extensive holdings of Shakespearean material including copies of the second and fourth folios, and numerous eighteenth-and nineteenth-century editions of the plays, many from the nineteenth- century Montreal collector and dealer in antiquities T.D. King.

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The C.P. Snow collection was given to the library in 1987 by its creator Brian Coleman of Vancouver. The collection of some sixty- seven volumes includes both first and later editions of Snow, both fiction and non-fiction. There is an uncorrected proof copy of The Malcontents and a number of autographed copies. Eighty percent have their dustjacket.

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The collection was given to the library in 1946 by the Montreal book collector Norman H. Friedman. The some 150 volumes in the collection include first and early edition of Stevenson's works and books about Stevenson.

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The William Butler Yeats collection is composed of first, early and variant editions of most his writings, some eighty-six volumes in all. There is some criticism and a few books by his son Jack Butler Yeats. The Yeats material is complemented by a selection of material in the Colgate History of Printing Collection published by the Cuala Press. This includes a complete run of A Broadside (1908-1915), early works by Yeats and others and some of their more recent works dealing with the Celtic Twilight.

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The general rare book collection includes a varied selection of English drama, poetry and fiction from the sixteenth to the twentieth centuries comprising the works of both major and minor authors. The holdings of eighteenth-century and early nineteenth- century English drama are extensive. There is much minor poetry of the eighteenth century and some major figures of the nineteenth century such as William Wordsworth (Lyrical Ballads, 1800) are represented. Nineteenth- and twentieth-century novelists like Walter Scott, Anthony Trollope, Charles Dickens, George Gissing, A. Conan Doyle, Wyndham Lewis (including a copy of Vortex) and Aldous Huxley are present as are the works of such minor figures as Baroness Jemima Montgomery Tautphoeus (1807-1893). There is a small collection of the works of Daniel Defoe and the works of Jonathan Swift are present in numerous editions. The holdings also include the small but choice English literature collection of the Montreal bibliophile Lawrence M. Lande.

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French Literature


The collection of Crébillon fils (1701-1777) was acquired from a private collector in 1995. To this were added some titles and editions already held by the Department. The collection includes over sixty editions of Crébillon's various books, many of which are quite scarce. The collection is particularly rich in variants. For example, Le Sopha is present in three distinct issues of the first edition of 1742 as well as a separate edition of the same year. There is also an unrecorded 1782 edition of Le Sopha. Other works are also present in multiple eighteenth-century editions and variants. Sixty-seven titles are present and there is one eighteenth-century English translation.

Description: "Crébillon fils", Coranto, No. 19 (Autumn 1995), 3.

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The Department has significant holdings of eighteenth-century French literature including thirty-seven original and later editions of many of the works by Nicolas-Edme Restif de la Bretonne. For Louis Sébastien Mercier there are four eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century editions of L'an deux mille quatre cent quarante as well as two English translations from the same period and other works. Other authors represented include Crébillon Père (1674-1762), Jean-Baptiste Rousseau, Bernard de Fontenelle, Mme. de Graffigny (Lettres d'une peruvienne) and Jean Henri Maubert de Gouvest (Lettres iroquoises). There are copies of Charles Garnier's Voyages imaginaires... (1787-1789), Charles Mayer's Le cabinet des fées et autres contes merveilleux (1785- 1789) and a long run of Bibliothèque universelle des romans (1775- 1781). There are also important holdings of many of the minor risqué works of the century such as Le Parnasse libertin, ou, Recueil de poésies libres (1775), Contes des fées nouvelles...le tout dédie à la volupté (1776) or Les Gaillardises du Frére Maurice, de l'ordre hospitalier des Moines Débauchés (1785). All of this material is complemented by and complements the Jean-Jacques Rousseau Collection.

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German Literature


The Rilke collection was formed in the late 1950s. The collection comprises some 300 titles and includes fiction, drama, poetry, letters and other prose pieces by the Austrian poet (1875-1926). There are many first and limited editions, as well as later and collected editions. Many of Rilke's works appear in translations, primarily in English and French, although there are Italian, Japanese and Chinese translations of some of the works. A number of bilingual editions (German/English; German/French) are also present. A significant part of the collection consists of critical works on the poet. Most of the material dates from before 1960.

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Yiddish Literature


The collection was donated to the library in 1981 by the family of the collector, the late Joe Fishstein of New York City. It is composed primarily of twentieth century Yiddish belles-lettres, poetry and criticism. While there are many standard works in the collection, there are, as well, many rare pre-World War II East European imprints. There are also scrapbooks of photographs and postcards. The collection includes some 2500 monographs and 200 serials. Many of the volumes are in unusual bindings and covers crafted by Mr. Fishstein himself.

Description: "Fishstein Collection of Yiddish Poetry", Coranto, No. 16 (Spring 1994), 3.

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Last modified 97/4/25.