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British Literature

Besides the early British imprints already noted, a wealth of English literature is in the collections, including the original parts of Dickens's Bleak House, David Copperfield, Dombey and Son, Little Dorrit, Master Humphrey's Clock, Nicholas Nickleby, and The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club, as well as All the Year Round, edited by Dickens from 1859 to June 1870. Three Dickens letters in the Frederick G. Kitton Papers are also available. First editions of Thackeray's The Adventures of Philip on His Way through the World and Our Street have letters by the author laid in. Original parts for Trollope's The Last Chronicle of Barset and The Way We Live Now are in the collections, as are first or early editions of thirteen titles by James Joyce. Samuel Johnson's 1755 A Dictionary of the English Language, a lexicographical landmark, is included as well.

Major holdings

Thomas Carlyle Collection

The Carlyle Collection of more than 650 titles is among the more complete in this country. Presented by Isaac Watson Dyer (Bowd. 1878), it contains works by and about Carlyle, as well as several volumes of pamphlets. 

Dyer collected this material in preparing his Bibliography of Thomas Carlyle, published in 1928. It remained the definitive work until the publication of Rodger Tarr's Thomas Carlyle: A Descriptive Bibliography in 1989, for which Tarr made extensive use of this collection. Dyer's research papers and a small collection of Carlyle letters are also part of the collections.

Shakespeare Collection

Stanley Perkins Chase (Bowd. 1905) served as Chapman Professor of English Literature at Bowdoin College, and gave the Library a large collection of important Shakespeareana.  Among the most treasured works are the Second and Fourth Folios of Mr. William Shakespeare's Comedies, Histories and Tragedies (1632 and 1685). Eighteenth-century editions of Shakespeare's works complement the two Folios, and include important editions by Nicholas Rowe (1709), Edmond Malone (1790), and versions edited by Alexander Pope and Dr. Samuel Johnson.

John Frost Play Collection

The collection comprises more than fifty plays, mostly by early British playwrights, from the estate of John Frost (Bowdoin 1904). Dating from the late-seventeenth through early-eighteenth centuries, it includes pieces by William Congreve, George Farquhar, Oliver Goldsmith, Hugh Kelly, Fanny Kemble, and Sir Richard Steele.

Although not yet listed in the online catalog, a list of these plays is available in the department.
George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections & Archives · Staff · Hours
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