Special Collections: Books and Journals | English | SIU

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Special Collections: Books and Journals

In the 1960s, Morris Library started collecting books and manuscripts from the period of the Irish Renaissance through roughly 1950. During this time the major collections were purchased. The strengths of the library holdings are in James Joyce, William Butler Yeats, and the Abbey Theatre, although many other Irish artists are well represented. As a rule, strong manuscript holdings of authors (for example, Mary Lavin, Brian O'Nolan, Francis Stuart, Katharine Tynan Hinkson) are backed by nearly definitive collections of their printed works. Since the 1960s, Special Collections has consistently added to its holdings, while the general library has kept pace with both Irish history and literature.

Special Collections holds a definitive collection of primary Joyce works, attempting to collect every printing of every edition of his works, including the piracies, most minor editions, most translations, and the Garland facsimiles. The Arion press edition of Ulysses, which has come to epitomize the textual problems among Joycean scholars and editors, is present, as well as eight copies of the first printing of Ulysses in its various states. The library has a high percentage of all secondary Joyce material as well, and it also houses one of only two bronze casts of the head and shoulders of Joyce from the Milton Hebald statue on his grave in Zurich. We also have original portraits of Joyce, including one by his biographer Frank Budgen.

Special Collections has very strong holdings of first editions of writers connected with the Abbey Theatre and the Irish Literary Renaissance, including Lady Augusta Gregory, John M. Synge, Douglas Hyde, Padraic Colum, Padraic Pearse, Lord Dunsany, Sean O'Casey, and Lennox Robinson, among others. These collections consist mainly of works printed during the authors' lifetimes. The library also contains virtually every edition of the works of Mary Lavin, Francis Stuart, Brendan Behan, and Flann O'Brien.

In addition to a solid representation of the contemporary Irish writers, Special Collections has the Field Day Anthology and all of the Field Day pamphlets. Also present are a number of Irish reference books, an Irish dictionary, and some Gaelic books. A large number of Irish journals have been collected over the years as well. Notable here is a full run of The Bell (1940-1954), founded by Sean O'Faolain and the longest lived, most significant literary magazine of modern Ireland.