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¶ Horae (c. 1420)

December 12, 2017

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Horae. Paris, c. 1420.

We have been unable to identify this book. The entry in MS catalogue (2) reads: “Book of Hours printed on vellum (imperfect, printed at Paris about 1520).”

Provenance: Morris. — Unlocated.

Reference: MS catalogue (2), no. 38 (with two X’s beside the title).

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¶ Plates of a book about the making of tapestry

December 8, 2017

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Plates of a book about the making of tapestry.

Unidentified. The full entry in MS catalogue (2) is “The Making of Tapestry. Plates only. Paris.”

Provenance: Morris. — Unlocated.

Reference: MS catalogue (2), no. 335.

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¶ Livy — Hystory of two the moste noble captaynes of the world (1590)

November 15, 2017

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Livy [Titus Livius]. The hystory of two the moste noble captaynes of the world, Anniball and Scipio. Trans. Antony Cope. London: William How, 1590.

Misdated as “159” in MS catalogue (1) (see below).

Provenance: Morris (purchased for £1 1s). — Unlocated.

References: ESTC (S108670). — MS catalogue (1), fol. 13.

Digital version: EEBO.

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¶ Photographs of flowers

November 14, 2017

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Photographs of flowers.

The description above is from MS catalogue (2); we know nothing about it other than that.

Provenance: Morris. — Unlocated.

Reference: MS catalogue (2), no. 344.

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¶ Engravings (facsimiles)

October 27, 2017

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Engravings (facsimiles).

41 engravings after Old Masters (described as “fine facsimiles”) .

Provenance: Morris. — Richard Bennett. — Sotheby 1898, lot 512 (sold to Henry Wellcome for £1 4s.).— Henry Wellcome. — Wellcome Library [deaccessioned]. — Unlocated.


Sotheby 1898:

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¶ Japanese book

October 27, 2017

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Japanese book.

Title not specified.

Provenance: Morris. — Unlocated.

Reference: MS catalogue (2), no. 544.

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¶ Four Japanese books

October 26, 2017

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Four Japanese books.

Titles not specified.

Provenance: Morrris. — Unlocated.

Reference: MS catalogue (2), no. 533.

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¶ Valerius Maximus — Priscorum exemplorum libri novem (1508)

October 19, 2017

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Valerius Maximus. Priscorum exemplorum libri novem. Venice: Bartholomeum de Zanis de Portesio, 1508.

With a bibliographical note by Sydney Cockerell.

Provenance: C. Davies. — Morris. — Richard Bennett. — Sotheby 1898, lot 1179 (sold to Henry Wellcome for £1 4s.). — Henry Wellcome. — Wellcome Library (Closed stores EPB / D 6435/D).

Reference: MS catalogue (2), no. 874 (with two X’s next to the title).

Digital version: BSB (excerpts).


Sotheby 1898:

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¶ Guilelmus Peraldus — Summa de vitiis et virtutibus (14th century) [MS]

October 17, 2017

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Guilelmus Peraldus. Summa de vitiis et virtutibus.

Illuminated manuscript. 14th century. 222 leaves.

Provenance: Busleyden College, Leuven. — Morris. — Richard Bennett. — Sotheby 1898, lot 932 (sold to Henry Wellcome for £11). — Henry Wellcome. — Wellcome Library [deaccessioned]. — Sotheby, 22 June 1982, lot 42 — Unlocated.

References: MS catalogue (2), no. 922, p. 93. — Schoenberg (SDBM_MS_825).


Sotheby 1898:

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¶ Alexander, de Villa Dei — Grammatica Latina rhythmica (15th century) [MS]

October 9, 2017

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Alexander, de Villa Dei. Grammatica Latina rhythmica [i.e. Doctrinale puerorum].

Illuminated manuscript. Italy, 15th century. 63 leaves.

Provenance: Joannes Paulus Marconus Venetus. — Morris. — Richard Bennett. — Sotheby 1898, lot 418 (sold to Leighton for £5 10s.). — Sotheby, 11 April 1938, lot 303. — P. G. and J. D. Gordan. — Maggs catalogue, 1938, no. 151 (from the Gordans). — Unlocated.

References: Faye and Bond, p. 404, no. 151. — Schoenberg (SDBM_MS_6760).


Sotheby 1898:

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¶ Psalter (14th century) [MS]

October 4, 2017

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Psalter.

Illuminated manuscript. England, 14th century. 141 leaves.

Provenance: Howell Wills. — Wills sale, Sotheby, 11 July 1894, lot 1536. — Quaritch catalogue, August 1894, no. 413 (£60). — Quaritch catalogue, 15 November 1895, no. 154 (£105). — Morris. — Richard Bennett. — Sotheby 1898, lot 972 (sold to Leighton for £85). — Charles Butler. — Butler sale, Sotheby, 18 March 1912, lot 2630 (£700). — Sotheby 18 July 1921, lot 499. — Sawyer catalogue 100, 1930, no. 111. — Sotheby, 18 December 1933, lot 363. — Unlocated.

Reference: Schoenberg (SDBM_MS_3527).


Sotheby 1898:

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¶ Catalogue of monasteries (early 16th century) [MS]

October 2, 2017

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A catalogue of European monasteries and their possessions.

Illuminated manuscript. Italy, early 16th century. 99 leaves.

Provenance: Pope Julian II (Giuliano della Rovere). — W. H. Crawford. — Crawford sale, Sotheby 12 March 1891, lot 2244 (sold for £32). — Morris. — Richard Bennett. — Sotheby 1898, lot 904 (sold to Henry Wellcome for £30). — Henry Wellcome. — Wellcome Library [deaccessioned]. — John Roland Abbey. — Abbey sale, part 10, 20 June 1978, lot 2990. — Unlocated.

Reference: Schoenberg (SDBM_MS_5699).


Sotheby 1898:

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¶ Lactantius — Divinae institutiones (15th century) [MS]

September 25, 2017

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Lactantius. Divinae institutiones adversus gentes.

Illuminated manuscript. Italy (perhaps Venice), mid-fifteenth century. 297 leaves.

With bibliographical notes by Sydney Cockerell.

Provenance: Morris. — Richard Bennett. — Sotheby 1898, lot 745 (sold to Yates Thompson for £19). — Henry Yates Thompson. — Sydney Cockerell (purchased 3 January 1901 for Boston Public Library). — Boston Public Library (RARE BKS Ms. Med. 14 FOLIO).

References: de Ricci, 1:920, no. 14. — Schoenberg (SDBM_MS_11486).


Sotheby 1898:

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¶ Japanese and Chinese picture books

May 22, 2017

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Japanese and Chinese picture books.

A lot containing 21 books, with the titles not listed.

Provenance: Morris. — Richard Bennett. — Sotheby 1898, lot 455 (sold to Henry Wellcome for £3 14s.). — Henry Wellcome. — Wellcome Library [deaccessioned]. — Unlocated.


Sotheby 1898:

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¶ Three Japanese woodcut books

May 22, 2017

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Three Japanese woodcut books.

Titles not specified.

Provenance: Morris. — Unlocated.

Reference: MS catalogue (2), no. 527.

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¶ Schmidt — Die Frühesten und Seltensten denkmale des Holz- und metallschnitte (n.d.)

January 17, 2017

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Schmidt, M. Die Frühesten und Seltensten denkmale des Holz- und metallschnitte. 3 parts in 2. Nuremberg: S. Soldan, n.d.

Illustrated.

Provenance: Morris. — Richard Bennett. — Sotheby 1898, lot 1107 (sold to Henry Wellcome for £4 12s.). — Henry Wellcome. — Wellcome Library (Closed stores Hist. G. O/S 2 40).


Sotheby 1898:

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¶ Horae (1498)

December 27, 2016

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Horae: ad usum Romanum. Paris: Philippe Pigouchet for Simon Vostre, 16 September 1498.

Illustrated.

Provenance: Loyse de Betuliar. — Hippolyte St. Michel. — F. H. S. Delaulnaye. — Morris. — Richard Bennett. — J. Pierpont Morgan. — Morgan Library (ChL1485).

References: ISTC (ih00395000). — Morgan Catalogue 3, no. 579.— MS catalogue (2), no. 909, p. 82 (with an X beside the title).

Digital version: Małopolska Digital Library.

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¶ Þorkelsson — Aefisaga Gizurar Thorvaldssonar (1868)

December 22, 2016

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Þorkelsson, Jón. Aefisaga Gizurar Thorvaldssonar. Reykjavík: E. Thórðarson, 1868.

Provenance: Morris. — Unlocated.

Reference: MS catalogue (2), no. 912.

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¶ Luther — Piae ac doctae in psalmos operationes (1521)

December 21, 2016

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Luther, Martin. Piae ac doctae in psalmos operationes. Basel: Adam Petri, 1521.

Provenance: Morris. — Victoria Public Library (Special Coll. Ref. LAT 223.2 L97m).

Digital version: BSB.

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¶ Chasseneux — Catalogus gloriae mundi (1529)

December 21, 2016

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Chasseneux, Barthélemy de. Catalogus gloriae mundi, laudes, honores, excellentias, ac praeeminentias omnium fere statuum. 12 parts in 1 vol. Lyon: per Dionysium de Harsy, 1529.

Illustrated.

Provenance: Morris. — Richard Bennett. — Sotheby 1898, lot 351 (sold to Breslauer for £1 10s.). — Unlocated.

Reference: MS catalogue (2), no. 989.

Digital copy: HathiTrust.

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Sotheby 1898:

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¶ Kempis — Þriar Stuttar Bækur (1676)

December 10, 2016

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[Kempis, Thomas à]. Þriar Stuttar Bækur Huørnen Madur skule breyta epter Herranum Christo. Hoolum i Hialta Dal [Iceland], 1676.

An Icelandic translation of The imitation of Christ.

Provenance: Sigurdur Bjornsson. — Morris. — Richard Bennett. — Sotheby 1898, lot 835 (part; sold to Henry Wellcome for 15s.). — Henry Wellcome. — George Udny Yule. — St. John’s College Library, Cambridge (A7.UkCU-JOH) [gift from Yule, 1939].

Reference: MS catalogue (2), no. 610.


Sotheby 1898:

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¶ Surtees — Handley Cross (1843)

December 7, 2016

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Surtees, Robert Smith. Handley Cross, or The spa hunt: a sporting tale. 3 vols. London: Henry Colburn, 1843.

Illustrated. The above is the first edition; it is not known which edition Morris owned, but in the Lobb sale catalogue it is described as “2 vols., n.d.”

Provenance: Morris. — Jane Morris. — May Morris. — Mary Lobb. — Lobb sale 1, lot 76 (part; sold for 9s.). — Unlocated.

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¶ Gallus — Malogranatum (1473?)

November 14, 2016

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Gallus, Abbot of Königssaal [Gallus, Abbas Cisterciensis]. Malogranatum. [Strassburg: Heinrich Eggestein, not after 1473.]

Provenance: Morris. — Richard Bennett. — Sotheby 1898, lot 541 (sold to Heppenstal for £1 15s.). — Det Kongelige Bibliotek [Royal Library and Copenhagen University].

Reference: ISTC (ig00047000).


Sotheby 1898:

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¶ Alanya — Aurem opus (1515)

October 24, 2016

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[Alanya, L. ed.] Aurem opus regalium privilegiorum civitatis et regni Valentie. Valencia: Didaci de gumiel, 1515.

Illustrated.

Provenance: Morris. — Richard Bennett. — Sotheby 1898, lot 1178 (sold to Leighton for £17). — Quaritch Centenary catalogue (1947), lot 214 (£195). — Unlocated.


Sotheby 1898:

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¶ Champier — Les grans croniques (1516)

October 21, 2016

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Champier, Simphorien. Les grans croniques des gestes et vertueux faictz des tres excellens catholicques. Paris: Jean de la Garde, 1516.

Illustrated.

Provenance: Edward Gwynn. — Augustine Vincent. — Ralph Sheldon. — Philip Lord Hardwicke. — Morris. — Richard Bennett. — Sotheby 1898, lot 349 (sold to Ridges for £18). — Ridges. — Charles Fairfax Murray. — Unlocated.

References: Fairfax Murray Catalogue (French), 1, no. 84. — MS catalogue (2), no. 918, p. 83.


Sotheby 1898:

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¶ Indo-Persian drawings (n.d.)

June 4, 2016

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A volume of mounted Indo-Persian drawings (n.d.)

Provenance: Morris. — Richard Bennett. — Sotheby 1898, lot 720 (sold to Ellis for £39 10s.). — Unlocated.


Sotheby 1898:

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¶ L’ histoire des deux nobles & vaillans cheualiers (n.d.)

May 31, 2016

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L’ histoire des deux nobles & vaillans cheualiers, Valentin & Orson, enfans de l’Empereur de Grece. Rouen: P. Mulot, [n.d.].

Illustrated.

Provenance: Thomas Corser. — E. V. Utterson. — Morris. — Richard Bennett. — Sotheby 1898, lot 1083 (sold to Leighton for £7). — Leighton. — Charles Fairfax Murray. — Unlocated.

Reference: Fairfax Murray Catalogue (French) 1, no. 242.

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Sotheby 1898:

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¶ L’histoire du vaillant et preux chevalier Galien Rethore (n.d.)

May 11, 2015

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L’histoire du vaillant et preux chevalier Galien Rethore filz du conte Olivier de Vienne, per de France. Paris: Nicolas Bonfons, n.d.

Illustrated.

Provenance: Morris. — Richard Bennett. — Sotheby 1898, lot 462 (sold to Heppenstal for £10 10s.). — Unlocated.

Digital version: Gallica.

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Sotheby 1898:

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¶ Hugo — Cromwell (n.d.)

December 11, 2014

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Hugo, Victor. Cromwell: drame. Paris, n.d.

Presentation copy to Morris from W. M. B. Euren.

Provenance: Morris. — Richard Bennett. — Sotheby 1898, lot 444 (part; sold to Tregaskis for 17s.). — Unlocated


Sotheby 1898:

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INTRODUCTION

February 9, 2014

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Morris study 2

A view of Morris’s study, shortly after his death, by Edmund H. New. (Mark Samuels Lasner Collection, University of Delaware Library.) 


“Friends of Mr. Morris will always regret that no catalogue of his complete library was ever issued, as it would have illustrated, in a remarkable manner, the real genius in selection which enabled him, in a very short space of time, to bring together so many specimens of first-rate importance” (The Guardian, 14 December 1898, p. 26).

William Morris (1834–1896) was a voracious reader from an early age, but it was only in his later years that he became a determined book-collector, and all the evidence suggests that he then began to acquire books and manuscripts on a large scale primarily because of his interest in the history of book illustration and typography. Hence when he founded the Kelmscott Press in 1891, his fascination with printing led him on to increasingly ambitious purchases for his library, especially of medieval books and manuscripts. Nevertheless, he also owned a very substantial collection of nineteenth-century books—we have identified more than a thousand so far—and this point is worth emphasizing, because most published remarks on Morris’s library, including those of Morris himself and Sydney Cockerell, give the misleading impression that his bookshelves held little else but incunables.

This website represents an attempt to reconstruct the personal library of one of the most influential figures of the Victorian era. Drawing upon a large number of sources, we are creating a short-title list of all the books and manuscripts Morris is known to have had in his collection. We are also including information about provenance, snippets from the Sotheby sale catalogue of Morris’s library (December 1898), buyers and prices of the lots in that auction, and links to digital copies of the titles. (We are aware, by the way, that some of those links, especially to Google Books, are not functional outside the United States because of copyright restrictions, but we hope that may change in the future.) Likewise, we are making use of the three manuscript catalogues of Morris’s books compiled during his lifetime (see Abbreviations under “MS catalogues”). At a later stage, we want to add more information about individual entries, such as allusions to them in Morris’s writings and correspondence.

The story of how Morris’s collection was dispersed after his death is complex and can only be briefly summarized here. Though some of his books remained within the family, his executors, Sydney Cockerell and F. S. Ellis, arranged for a private sale of the rest of the library to Richard Bennett, a Manchester collector, who quickly disposed of a large number of items that were subsequently offered at auction by Sotheby’s (London) in December 1898. Because Henry Wellcome was the most active buyer at that sale, the Wellcome Library in London today has one of the two largest collections of titles from Morris’s library, but of course the remainder of the lots in the 1898 auction are now widely scattered. The other substantial body of material once owned by Morris is at the Morgan Library in New York, since in 1902 J. Pierpont Morgan acquired the second part of Bennett’s collection. Unfortunately the Wellcome Library sold hundreds of Morris’s books during the 1930s and 1940s, and even the Morgan has deaccessioned a few titles that were treated as duplicates.

We have also decided, after some hesitation, to include books that were owned by Morris’s wife and daughters before his death, on the assumption that these books were all at one time under the roofs of Kelmscott House and Kelmscott Manor, and were no doubt in some instances mingled with Morris’s modern books. (Following the same principle, we are recording Morris’s personal copies of Kelmscott Press books that were published during his lifetime.) Similarly, we are listing books given by Morris to others, except for copies of his own works and Kelmscott Press titles. In a few instances, we know that these books came directly from his own bookshelves as duplicate copies, and the books he presented to others often tell us something about Morris’s literary tastes and preferences.

We are of course recording medieval and Renaissance manuscripts owned by Morris, but we have excluded his calligraphic exercises and drafts of his own writings. For both manuscripts and books later acquired by J. Pierpont Morgan, we are transcribing Sydney Cockerell’s marginalia in the copy of the Morgan Catalogue (see Abbreviations) now in the Lilly Library, Indiana University.

In order to give a better sense of how much Morris is likely to have paid for his early books and manuscripts, we are gradually adding details from the Ellis valuation (see Abbreviations) compiled after Morris’s death.

Obviously this site continues to be a work in progress. We welcome suggestions, corrections, and especially new information; we are diligently searching in all the known sources, but we urge readers to tell us about books and manuscripts once in Morris’s possession that we may have overlooked.

We should add that we maintain another website devoted to the Kelmscott Chaucer.

William S. Peterson (wsp@umd.edu) & Sylvia Holton Peterson (swholton2@cs.com)

Morris bookplateMorris’s book label, created by his executors.


Bibliographical note: The best accounts of Morris’s library are two chapters by Paul Needham (though in both cases he limits his discussion mainly to fifteenth- and early sixteenth-century books) in William Morris and the Art of the Book (New York: Pierpont Morgan Library and Oxford University Press, 1976), pp. 21–47, and Under the Hammer: Book Auctions since the Seventeenth Century, ed. Robin Myers, Michael Harris, and Giles Mandelbrote (New Castle, Del.: Oak Knoll Press; London: British Library, 2001), pp. 173–208. (For Paul Needham’s contributions to our digital catalogue of the Morris library, see Acknowledgments.)

For another discussion of Morris’s book-buying habits, see Richard Landon, A Long Way from the Armstrong Beer Parlour: A Life in Rare Books, ed. Marie Elena Korey (Toronto: Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library; New Castle, Del.: Oak Knoll Press, 2014), pp. 323–38. Mark Samuels Lasner’s handlist of a Grolier Club exhibition, William Morris: The Collector as Creator (New York: Grolier Club, 1996), also offers a good description of Morris’s library and how it was formed.

A useful, more general study is Richard W. Oram with Joseph Nicholson, ed., Collecting, Curating, and Researching Writers’ Libraries (Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield, 2014).

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