English Literature

The largest portion of the literary collections is English literature of the British Isles, including Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. Among the most significant holdings are two 15th-century manuscripts of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales; an important group of 16th-and 17th-century poetical commonplace books; more than 450 books and pamphlets by Daniel Defoe, including the rare first edition of Robinson Crusoe; the largest extant collection of Robert Burns’s letters, manuscripts, and early editions; one of the world’s most important Lewis Carroll collections, including more than 600 of his letters, his early drawings, his own copy of the very rare first edition of Alice in Wonderland, and his rarest photographs; Bram Stoker’s autograph notes and outlines for Dracula; the manuscripts of two-thirds of Joseph Conrad’s literary works, including Lord Jim, and 60 letters in his hand; and the manuscript of James Joyce’s Ulysses.

Collection Highlights

Books by Mary Shelley

We're delighted to announce that the Rosenbach has acquired a rare first edition (1818) of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus, as well as first editions of Shelley's novels Valperga (1823), The Last Man (1826), The Fortunes of Perkin Warbeck (1830), and Falkner (1837). These terrific additions to our…

O’thello: part of the Great Unpaid

The earliest surviving Dickens literary manuscript comes from a parody of Shakespeare’s Othello. Dickens wrote the adaptation in 1832 or 1833, around the time he first secured work as a journalist. The role of the Great Unpaid went to his father, John Dickens. The Dickens family apparently performed Charles’s parody…

The Vampyre

The Vampyre, written by Lord Byron's personal physician John Polidori, is the first English vampire story and established many conventions of vampire literature, including the linkage of sexuality and violence. The vampiric Lord Ruthven was modeled on Byron and the tale was often falsely attributed to Byron, as on this…

The Works of Mr. Abraham Cowley

The works of Mr. Abraham Cowley: in two volumes: consisting of those which were formerly printed; and those which he design'd for the press, published out of the author's original copies. With the Cutter of Coleman-street. — The eleventh edition. — London: Printed for J. Tonson; sold by D. Browne.…

Ulysses: autograph manuscript, “Circe” episode

Joyce began work on "Circe" when he got to Paris in July of 1920. His work was slowed by a missing trunk of books and notes  that Stanislaus had sent from Trieste. By the time he finished this draft in December, he claimed to have written in out at least…

Related Posts

We the Detectives: Exhibitions and Immersive Theater Exploring the History of the Mystery

Parkway Central Library Department of External Affairs 1901 Vine Street Philadelphia, PA 19103-1189 Phone: 215-567-7710 Contact: Alix Gerz Free Library to Present We the Detectives, Exhibitions and Immersive Theater Exploring the History of the Mystery Special exhibitions at the Rosenbach and the Free Library’s Rare Book Department merge with theatrical performances by New Paradise Laboratories …

Children’s Books by Authors You Weren’t Expecting

April 2 is International Children’s Book Day–a day you might well celebrate with a visit to our exhibition of books bequested to the Rosenbach by Maurice Sendak, which include some remarkable rare editions of books by Beatrix Potter, Margaret Wise Brown, and the brothers Grimm as well as the marvelous movable circus book by Lothar Meggendorfer. …

Happy St. Patrick’s Day from the Rosenbach

There may be snow on the ground on Delancey Place, but we are feeling pretty green here at the Rosenbach. We began our day with a meeting dedicated to developing our upcoming Bloomsday celebration; it’s too soon to share details, but we are so looking forward to this annual celebration. Later this afternoon, in honor of St. …

5 Questions with Michael Dirda

A series of informal, intimate talks given by literary and cultural luminaries, In Conversation with the Rosenbach delves into fascinating histories, intellectual curiosities, and inspiring ideas. Each program offers the audience a chance to join the conversation after the talk and share their own thoughts and questions. Join us March 23 to hear book columnist …

5 Questions with Tina Packer

A series of informal, intimate talks given by literary and cultural luminaries, In Conversation with the Rosenbach delves into fascinating histories, intellectual curiosities, and inspiring ideas. Each program offers the audience a chance to join the conversation after the talk and share their own thoughts and questions. Join us February 27 as veteran Shakespeare performer …

Dr. Rosenbach and the songs of Robert Burns

This guest post is an excerpt of  “Dr. Rosenbach, Robert Burns, and The Interleaved Scots Musical Museum:  Song Collection and Bibliophilia” by Steve Newman, Associate Professor of literature at Temple University. It’s always exciting for us to read about the discoveries made by researchers! To make an appointment in our reading room, click here. Robert Burns devoted …

The Rosenbach Presents RECENT ACQUISITIONS FROM THE BEQUEST OF MAURICE SENDAK

The Rosenbach 2008-2010 Delancey Place Philadelphia, PA 19103 Contact: Sara Davis Phone: 215-732-1600 x 132 Email: [email protected]   The Rosenbach Presents Recent Acquisitions from the Bequest of Maurice Sendak Rare Books From the Beloved Illustrator’s Personal Library Shed Light On His Literary Imagination PHILADELPHIA, January 18, 2017— The Rosenbach is proud to present Recent Acquisitions from the Bequest of Maurice Sendak, on view January 31 – April 30, 2017. …

Scams in Austenland

Sense and Sensibility was the first of Jane Austen’s novels to be published. Released in 1811 by Thomas Egerton, Sense and Sensibility—along with three other novels during Austen’s short lifetime—was published anonymously. This humorous first novel by “A Lady” had a higher-than-normal print run of 750 copies, and those sold out by 1813, prompting a …

The Curious Appeal of Sherlock Holmes

This post was cross-posted at the Free Library of Philadelphia blog, where our affiliates have been celebrating their One Book One Philadelphia selection, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. In The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Christopher Boone’s investigation into the death of a neighborhood dog is inspired by …