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Benjamin Morse book collection (16th-19th C.)

A collection of early to modern era books from the personal library of Benjamin Joseph Morse (1878-1977), senior lecturer in Italian and German at University College, Cardiff (1940-1966), poet, translator, and critic.

The collection contains works relating to a diverse variety of subjects, from history and philosophy, to dictionaries and reference works. The early printed nucleus of the collection includes c. 200 volumes from the 16th-17th centuries, plus c. 450 volumes from the 18th-19th century; authors such as Aesop, Cicero, Ovid, and Virgil, are widely represented.

However, the major strength of the modern section is a sub-collection of books related to the poet Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926), containing c. 700 items, published from the 1900s to the 1960s: a comprehensive section of Rilke’s poetry in the original language is held, plus a key selection of the main translations of  his works in English, Italian, and French. The section also includes a number of significant monographs, critical essays and journal articles on Rilke’s life and poetry, plus Morse’s translations of some of Rilke’s poems in English. Other notable editions of foreign works are held in the collection, including: a noteworthy set of works by and on German poet Alfred Mombert (1872-1942); and the first editions of Italian poet Umberto Saba’s Il Canzoniere (first published in 1921 in a limited edition, the work was republished in enlarged and modified editions in 1945 and 1948) – all the volumes are personally signed by the author. (This Rilke sub-collection is held in Store, and is uncatalogued).

Date range: 16th-20th centuries.

Significance: Significant in the United Kingdom and Europe

Strengths: Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926)

Size: c. 2,300 books.

Languages: Latin, English, German, Italian, and French.

Keywords: Benjamin Morse, Literature, History, Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926), Alfred Mombert (1872-1942), Umberto Saba (1883-1957).

Notes: Related to the collection is the major Benjamin Morse archive, containing articles and pamphlets by Benjamin Morse, plus original poems, personal papers, and letters from the Rilke family and other notable correspondents.