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John Strachan Book Collection

600 items.

John Strachan (1862–1907) was one of the greatest Celtologists of the nineteenth century.  

He was appointed Hulme Professor of Greek at Owens College in 1885, at the age of twenty-three, and in 1890 he was additionally appointed Professor of Sanskrit and Comparative Religion; he held both chairs at Owens (later the University of Manchester) until his death in 1907.

Strachan published extensively on Celtic languages and literature, most significantly the two-volume Thesaurus Palaeohibernicus (1901–3), consisting of more than 1,200 pages of Old Irish glosses from manuscripts, which he edited jointly with Whitley Stokes. In 1904, in recognition of his outstanding contribution to Celtic scholarship, he was appointed (unpaid) lecturer in Celtic.

After Strachan’s death his personal library was purchased by friends and colleagues and presented to the University Library. It contains a number of rare printed works from the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

Among those of most interest to Celtic studies are:

  • Bedell’s translation of the Old Testament into Irish (London, 1685)
  • Connor Begly’s English-Irish Dictionary (Paris, 1732)
  • John Davies’s Antiquae Linguae Britannicae Dictionarium Duplex (London, 1632)
  • James Johnstone’s Antiquitates Celto-Scandicae (Copenhagen, 1786)
  • Edward Lhuyd’s Archaeologica Britannica (Oxford, 1707)
  • Francis Molloy’s Lucerna Fidelium (Rome, 1676)
  • John O’Brien’s Focalóir Gaoidhilge-SaxBhéarla (Paris, 1768)
  • John David Rhys’s Welsh grammar (London, 1592)
  • John Smith’s Gaelic Antiquities (Edinburgh, 1780)

However, a very wide range of languages, many decidedly esoteric, is represented in the collection: Albanian, Armenian, Avestic, Breton, Cornish, Early English, French, Greek, Irish, Latin, Lithuanian, Manx, Old Prussian, Oscan, Persian, Sanskrit, Telugu, Thai and Umbrian.

See also the John Strachan papers.

Finding aids

  • Recorded in general printed-book catalogue;
  • See also separate duplicated handlist.


Main Library and The John Rylands Library

Only a small proportion of Strachan’s original collection is at the JRL: most of it was integrated into the general stock of the Main Library.

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