Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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John Henry Wrenn Library

Wrenn's personal bookplate incorporating illustrations of his library, his copy of Rembrandt's Three Trees, and his house in Chicago.

Wrenn's personal bookplate incorporating
illustrations of his library, his copy of
Rembrandt's "Three Trees," and his
house in Chicago.

The Wrenn Library (6,000 volumes), the first rare book collection acquired by The University of Texas, came to Austin in 1918. Wrenn was a Chicago financier who collected English literature–the 17th century and the Romantic poets in particular. He purchased many books from the English bibliographer and collector Thomas J. Wise, later identified as a master forger. As a result, the Wrenn Library contains nearly one hundred examples of Wise's spurious 19th-century pamphlets and many copies of 17th-century plays which Wise is known to have "improved" with leaves torn from British Museum copies. High spots include the King's Collection, a separately designated section of the library with the prose pamphlets of John Milton and proclamations of the Stuart Kings from the English Civil War; an extensive collection of 17th-century quarto plays; Shelley's scarce Original Poetry; By Victor and Cazire (1810) as well as other first editions of the major Romantics; and a complete run of Kelmscott Press books.

Printed catalog: A Catalogue of the Library of the Late John Henry Wrenn (Austin, 1920)

 

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