Full cataloguing of Library’s collection of early works by Virginia Woolf and the Hogarth Press completed!

A selection of the new additions to the growing collection of early Virginia Woolf and Hogarth Press works.

First edition of Monday or Tuesday (1921), with Vanessa Bell’s original binding, purchased 2012.

For some time the library has been working in partnership with staff in the School of English to develop a Virginia Woolf and Hogarth Press research collection. This development was approached from two sides: 1) decipher what books we had in our general collections (both in the Main Library and the Rare Book Collection) which haven’t been catalogued properly, and 2) begin allocating funds for the purchasing of exemplary editions.

Works were carried out in the previous year by members of the Main Library collections team to identify what books were in the circulating collection and to pull these books aside for assessment. Once a list of these books was compiled, I then began checking through our general ‘reserve’ collections to see what else we might have that hadn’t been catalogued properly, which turned out to be a significant amount. In the meantime, we also began actively purchasing clean editions of works we did not have, which fortuitously coincided with very clean copies of first editions of both Two Stories (1917) and Kew Gardens (1919) coming on the market (via Peter Harrington) last year (see Ian Blyth’s Highlight post from last year for more on these acquisitions).  Also, this year, while at the Edinburgh Book Fair, I noticed a good copy of the first edition of Monday or Tuesday (1921) for sale by Maggs Bros., which fit our collection perfectly (see left).

This collection includes many early editions of the same work, which allows bibliographic research to be carried out across the full range of a text’s early life. Pictured above are the third edition (left) and first edition (right) of Kew Gardens.

This week I finished processing the backlog of these new purchases and transfers from the main library, and the picture emerging from this collection is a very useful resource for Woolf and Bloomsbury scholars. All of these items have now been fully catalogued and provide access to information previously not available. For example, a research can now see all the items we have that were printed or published by The Hogarth Press, which of those items were published under the auspices of Virginia Woolf, and which items were printed by which presses (e.g. R. & R. Clark, Neill and Company, etc.). I have also included in all of these records standard citations to the two relevant bibliographies: B.J. Kirkpatrick’s A bibliography of Virginia Woolf and J. Howard Woolmer’s A checklist of The Hogarth Press. These access points begin to allow researchers to explore these works in a wider context than has previously been available: by looking at the reference notes in Woolmer you can understand where in the publishing history certain books fall, and by looking at the references in Kirkpatrick you can understand where in Woolf’s publishing history certain books fall.

The first English edition (left) and first American edition (right) of The years (1937).

First American editions of Between the acts (1941) and The death of the moth (1942) with the publisher’s dust-jackets, designed by Vanessa Bell.

An almost complete set of The Charleston Magazine was purchased in 2005 as part of this collection.

Also included in this collection were the first American editions of some of Woolf’s works, published by Harcourt Brace & Company, some with their original dust-jackets designed by Vanessa Bell (see right). Having first editions from both the English and American runs of Woolf’s works allows scholars to compare how the author’s text was presented, reproduced and marketed. It also allows for close textual analysis which normally would take be facilitated using digital surrogates or even travelling between libraries.

This developing collection, then, provides a unique resource for Woolf scholars locally as well as further afield. Many of the books ‘rescued’ from the Main Library’s circulating collection are not in the best state (in most cases the publisher’s dust-jacket has been discarded and barcodes affixed to the front cover), but they still provide a rich bibliographic resource. This collection is also not a static collection, we will be keeping our eyes out for any other clean first editions coming on the market or, indeed, for donation. If you have any suggestions for further additions to this collection, please do not hesitate to get in touch!


8 responses to “Full cataloguing of Library’s collection of early works by Virginia Woolf and the Hogarth Press completed!

  1. Lovely to see someone else’s collection of Hogarth Press editions. I’ve been collecting in this area for over twenty years and my passion for these mazing books does not diminish – especially for the handprinted titles. Monday or Tuesday is one of my favourites, I have an “ordinary” copy of the English first edition, a unique copy with a paper label on the spine (not seen by Kirkpatrick or Woolmer), and an American first inscribed by Ethel Smyth to the Princess de Polignac. Wonderful stuff indeed… Frederick Lewis

    • Great news to have such a truly amasing collection available for the general public in Britain. My wife and I have been collecting Virginia Woolf and Bloomsbury for over 25 years now, with a very special interest for the handprinted books of course, and the Omega workshops. An everyday treat.
      Pierre Coumans

    • Our collecting paths have run parralel for many years, maybe that is why our collections are remarkably similar. I’m not sure if the information is useful to you, but I know the source of acquisition for your Harcourt Brace titles the Death of the Moth and Between the Acts in dustwrapper – I almost bought these copies myself from Richard Budd.

      • Oh, very interesting indeed Frederick! If you’re ever in the area and would like to have a look at these, just let us know and we’ll schedule you in, they are very clean copies indeed. Most of our collection was ‘rescued’ from the main library circulating collection and so is not nearly in as good a condition as some of our most recent purchases, but these two certainly are crisp and nice!

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