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Seventeenth-Century Literary Publications Collection

15,000 items (dispersed).

The Library’s holdings encompass most of the landmark publications of 17th-century English literature.

The substantial collections of works by Bunyan, Milton and Shakespeare are described individually elsewhere in this Guide, but many other distinguished authors are represented in first and significant editions.

The first edition of The Workes of Benjamin Jonson (1616) and the 1640 edition are both present; the former is a variant imprint with an engraved title-page.

For John Donne there is a grangerized copy of the posthumously published Poems (1633).

Also in 1633 appeared the first edition of George Herbert’s The Temple, although reference should also be made to the 1679 edition, which includes an engraved portrait frontispiece and architectural plates.

Mid-century literature is well represented, with three issues of the first edition of Thomas Hobbes’s Leviathan (1651), and a first edition of Izaak Walton’s classic discourse on fishing, The Compleat Angler (1653).

Both the unauthorized and first authorized editions of Sir Thomas Browne’s Religio Medici (1642–43) are available.

The Library holds the first authorized editions of parts one and two of Samuel Butler’s Hudibras (1663–64), and the first edition of part three (1678).

For John Dryden there are first editions of Absalom and Achitophel (1681) and The Medall: a satyre against sedition (1682), while a collection of ten of his plays, bound into a single volume, includes four first editions (1669–1678).

See also

Finding aids

Recorded in general printed-book catalogue.


The John Rylands Library

Using the reading rooms in the John Rylands Library

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