Personal Libraries

John Quinn bookplate

Well-known bookplate of New York lawyer-collector John Quinn, designed by Jack B Yeats. Many volumes in our Healy Collection were purchased by Healy at Quinn’s 1924 auction.

This section of our site features the personal libraries associated with some of our major manuscript collections. Why is a personal library important? What does this collection tell us about the individual who developed it?

If your avenue of inquiry is a writer’s interests and influences, then her or his personal library can vastly increase your comprehension of the creative life and work. Inscriptions document relationships, annotations convey thought processes. Shelf marks suggest the library’s  organizational structure. Bookplates capture provenance and convey personal aethetics. A personal library contains many clues and nuances. As a body of literary materials, it is a primary source.

Although we highlight on this site our largest personal libraries, we also have over 50 volumes from Thomas Hardy’s library at Max Gate as well as books from the libraries of Vernon Lee, Celia Thaxter and others.