Manuscripts and Special Collections

The Special (Printed Books) Collections

Illustrated title page of Rump from 1662

Rump: or An exact collection of the choycest poems & songs... (London, 1662) [Special Collection PR1211.R8]

The University's collections of rare printed books are known collectively as the Special Collections. Individual collections range in size from under fifty volumes to several thousand.

Most of the publications are pre-1850 in date, but the holdings include some more modern titles, selected because of the subject matter - such as the D.H. Lawrence collections - or because of their rarity or fine printing.

The majority have been received through bequest or donation. Their bookplates and other marks of ownership provide evidence about the literary tastes of past collectors. Many Italian volumes, for example, bear the bookplate of Lord Vernon.

The Briggs Collection of children's educational literature is a particularly rich and attractive resource, which touches on many different subjects. It shows how children were taught to observe the world around them, and what they learned about the history of their country and distant lands. Engravings and coloured illustrations have particular interest for art historians.

The scholar Eiríkur Benedikz (1907-1988) was another notable collector. His library, now known as the Benedikz Collection of Icelandic Literature, supports the study of old Norse and related subjects. Its cataloguing was undertaken as part of a national collaboration to support Icelandic studies in university libraries. The first digitisation of Special Collections at Nottingham featured items from this collection. See the Ice, Fire and Northern Myths online exhibition, and the Icelandic Gateway (Egil) website, for more details.

Other collections include books and pamphlets relating to eighteenth and nineteenth-century drama, the history of medicine, and the French Revolution. Institutional libraries have come from the parishes of Oakham and Elston and from Queen Elizabeth Grammar School in Mansfield.


Coloured plate with botanical illustrations

Botanical illustrations from Bingley's practical introduction to botany (London, 1827) [Briggs Collection, LT210.QK.B4]


Illustrated poem called The Marriage of Cock Robin and Jenny Wren

From Favourite Pleasure Books for Young People (London, 1859) [Briggs Collection, PZ6.7.F2]


Next: The East Midlands Collection


Manuscripts and Special Collections

Kings Meadow Campus
Lenton Lane
Nottingham, NG7 2NR

telephone: +44 (0) 115 951 4565
fax: +44 (0) 115 846 8651