Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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Authors' Libraries

Books. Click to enlarge.

Four volumes hand-bound by Virginia Woolf.

Authors' libraries are a speciality of the Ransom Center, which may hold more of them than any other institution. A checklist may be found here. Among the better known libraries include those of W. H. Auden, the Coleridge family, E. E. Cummings, Guy Davenport, J. Frank Dobie, Arthur Conan Doyle (spiritualism and criminology), Alice Corbin Henderson, James Joyce, Oliver La Farge, Wyndham Lewis, Sir Compton Mackenzie, Christopher Morley, Ezra Pound, Anne Sexton, Ron Sukenick, David Foster Wallace, and Evelyn Waugh. There are also collections of books that belonged to English composer Michael Tippett and the Herschel family of astronomers. In addition to providing the authors' own copies of their works, these libraries offer insight into the owners' reading and collecting habits. Many copies are annotated by their owners or inscribed to them by prominent friends.

James Joyce's Trieste library, formed between 1900 and 1920, comprises 623 volumes. There are books signed by Joyce, his own copies of books written by him, presentation copies to him, and source books used in his writing. For more detail, see M. P. Gillespie's Catalogue of James Joyce's Trieste Library (Austin, 1986).

The 100 books from the library of Virginia Woolf include 70 books inscribed to Woolf. Of particular note are 10 inscribed volumes from T. S. Eliot and others from E. M. Forster, Hugh Walpole, Elizabeth Bowen, Lytton Strachey, and Stephen Spender. The collection includes four volumes that Woolf rebound herself: Jacques-Emile Blanche's Cahiers d'un Artiste (two volumes), Ottoline Morrell's A Farewell Message, and Alfred Vigny's Journal d'un Poète. The bulk of the library of Virginia and Leonard Woolf resides at Washington State University.

In 1980, a portion of Ezra Pound's library was acquired from his son Omar. Among the 650 volumes, some of which were used as sources for the Cantos, 38 are heavily annotated by Pound. Six hundred volumes from the library of Pound's friend Wyndham Lewis are also at the Ransom Center.

The library of Evelyn Waugh (4,000 volumes) consists primarily of 19th- and 20th-century works of English literature, art, design, architecture, and landscape gardening. Presentation copies from friends such as Peter Quennell, Graham Greene, and Thomas Merton, are included, along with numerous items from the library of Evelyn's father, Arthur.

The 8,000-volume library of J. Frank Dobie is devoted to the history of folklore and the American West. A particular focus is range and ranch life, including technical accounts of livestock breeding, pasturage, histories of famous ranches, and biographies of cowboys. Other topics well represented in the library include Mexico and South America, photography, Native Americans, and the folklore, history, and biography of Texas and the Southwest.

Anne Sexton's library includes all of her published books, many in first editions and a number annotated for public readings; over 100 books inscribed to Sexton, including works by Robert Lowell, Robert Bly, John Ciardi, Denise Levertov, Adrienne Rich, and Diane Wakoski; and over 500 volumes of general literature, criticism, and philosophy.

 

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