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Early English Books collection (16th-18th C.)


The collection includes a wide range of early printed English books. Common subjects covered are British history, politics, theology, and literature; other topics represented include law, botany, myth, art, astronomy and mathematics. The events covered by the collection include the English Civil War, Tudor and later religious controversies, the growth in scientific knowledge recorded in the first encyclopaedias, such as Chamber’s Cyclopaedia, and much more, from Renaissance to the Enlightenment.

Some of the most commonly recurring authors are: Francis Bacon, Robert Boyle, Joseph Hall, John Milton, Tobias Smollett, Jonathan Swift, and Jeremy Taylor. Particularly noteworthy are works dealing with the Reformation movement: several editions of Calvin, Erasmus, Luther, Zwingli etc. are held. A significant number of items are pamphlets, most commonly sermons or 17th century tracts on government; these are particularly important for the light they throw on controversies of their day. Many books have authors with either Welsh surnames or probable Welsh associations. Amongst previous owners of some of these works are John Dee, Isaac Newton and others.

Date range: 16th-18th century.

Significance: Of significance in the United Kingdom

Strengths: English history, literature, printing.

Size: c. 7,000-9,000 volumes.

Languages: English, Latin

Keywords: British history, British politics, theology, English literature, Reformation.

Notes: The library also holds over 100 volumes of 17th and 18th century works published by the Augustan Reprint Society. The volumes include works of poetry, drama, religious thought and history by writers such as Pope, Boswell, Defoe and Swift.  In addition, over 350 facsimiles from the English Linguistics 1500-1800 series are held. The titles include textbooks of rhetoric and logic, early grammars (written in English) of most Indo-European languages, grammars of English, dictionaries, studies in the theory of language, and studies on pronunciation and style. In addition, over a hundred volumes published by the Malone Society are held in Store, containing facsimiles and reprints of works of English Renaissance drama.