The Rare Book team is pleased to announce that the Hargreaves Collection has been fully catalogued on SAULCAT and awaits your reading pleasure.
Geoffrey D. Hargreaves studied classics at Pembroke College, Oxford before obtaining a Post-Graduate Diploma in Librarianship from the University of Strathclyde. He began his career at Stirling where he helped the new University to establish a collection of rare and older books for research and teaching. In the 1970s he was Historical Librarian at the Royal Medical Society and an Assistant Editor (Bibliography) for the Oxford English Dictionary. Returning to the library world as Assistant Librarian (Rare Books) at St Andrews from 1976, he remained in charge of the University’s historical printed collections throughout the 1980s.
Alongside his professional work, Hargreaves was an avid book collector, bibliographer, and Brontë scholar. In addition to collecting on the history of printing and bibliography in general, he aimed to collect the entire publishing history of the Brontës’ work, rounding out his library with primary and secondary sources on Victorian fiction, publishing, and social issues. After his death in 2012, Hargreaves’ widow Jan sought out an institution that would preserve as a whole his collection of more than 700 volumes and share it with those who were interested, finally donating the collection to the University of St Andrews Library in September of last year.
When describing a collection’s highlights, it’s easy to fall into the habit of always listing the same things: first editions (like Charlotte Brontë’s The Professor, Charles Dickens’ Bleak House, Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South), the oldest book in the collection (a fragment of Eucherius of Lyon’s Formulae Spiritalis Intelligentiae printed in 1473), items with interesting provenance (a copy of Charlotte Brontë’s Shirley from the library of E. M. Forster), and familiar, popular titles (eighteen different 19th century editions of Jane Eyre, mostly in their original publisher’s cloth bindings). Even beyond these staples, however, the Hargreaves collection still has quite a bit to offer.
The collection’s bibliographies and other secondary sources supplement the library’s existing reference collections on subjects such as palaeography, printing history and incunabula, and Victorian novelists (including the Brontës, Charles Dickens, Elizabeth Gaskell, and Wilkie Collins). Several of the bibliographies and catalogues have already been used by Special Collections staff in cataloguing the Hargreaves Collection and in curatorial work on the rare book collections more generally.
Fifty-five “yellowbacks” (cheap editions of popular novels intended for display and sale in railway bookstalls) offer students of graphic design and marketing a glimpse of Victorian taste with their brightly (and often dramatically) illustrated covers.
In addition to the novels, there’s also some fascinating non-fiction that sheds light on the Victorian world. There are guides for aspiring authors which detail how to prepare a manuscript, what to expect from publishers, and even the typefaces and binding styles available; treatises on Thrift and The Dietetic Value of Bread highlight the social issues of 19th century England and America.
Following the donation of the collection, Mrs Jan Hargreaves wrote of her husband, “It was his driving-force to the end to foster the advance of bibliographical enquiry and it was his happiness in working life to be in a position to foster like enthusiasm in the scholars of the future.” The Library is proud to continue Geoffrey Hargreaves’ legacy by making this collection available to the public.
To view books from the Hargreaves Collection, please contact our reading room at firstname.lastname@example.org or 01334 462339 to make an appointment.
– Christine Megowan
Rare Books Cataloguer