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Rare books

Our collections contain around 15,000 rare and early publications printed in English, German, French and Italian and dating from the 17th century onwards.

To give you a flavour of some of the items we hold we have material in the following subject areas:

  • LawThe Poor Law Appeals for 1831 and The Magistrate’s Assistant (1807) which deals with the correct conduct for a Justice of the Peace
  • Art history – catalogue raisoneés of Cezanne and Daumier and writings on Sir Thomas Lawrence, Turner, Manet and Courbet. Specific titles include Rossetti & his Circle by Max Beerbohm, Blake’s Illustrations for Thornton’ s Virgil and facsimiles of two small sketchbooks of John Constable from 1813 and 1814 which are accompanied by an explanatory volume
  • Architecture – books on Peterborough Cathedral, Pershore Abbey Church, the Palace of Westminster and the Houses of Parliament, Kenilworth Castle and more general topics such as Elizabethan architecture, medieval architectural decoration, monuments in Great Britain and views of Paris, as well as writings on architecture by Ruskin (The Poetry of Architecture 1803 and The Seven Lamps of Architecture 1883)
  • Music - holdings include ‘Songs from the Plays of Beaumont & Fletcher’, ‘Anthems of Kings College Chapel’ and published scores of music written by Henry VIII
  • Fiction, poetry and theatre – including old editions of works by Smollet, Swift, Scott and Goethe. Among items of interest are: a volume of The Shakespeare Society’s Papers (1844), a Biographical Dictionary of the Living Authors of Great Britain and Ireland from 1816 and Leo Tolstoy's Pamphlets published in 1901
  • From Culpepper’s
    Physical Directory (1651)

    Tracts and speeches
  • Memoirs and biographies
  • Chronicles
  • Classical civilization
  • Religion, philosophy, rites and ceremonies
  • Landscape, travel and countries –there are quite a few books on the local area as well as countries as diverse as Rome, Malta, Sicily, Norway, the Antarctic, Spain and Mexico. We even have a copy of the East India Register and Directory (1837)
  • Dictionaries and encyclopaedias – including a Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue published in 1785 and a selection of old dictionaries in English, French and Italian
  • History – we hold Hazlitt’s Political Essays (1819) as well as more modern works such as The Proletarian Revolution in Russia by Lenin and Trotsky (1918) and Underground Russia – Revolutionary Profiles and Sketches from Life by Stepniak (1890)

Items in the collection are included in the University of Warwick Library Catalogue and have the letters [spc] in their classmarks.

Location: Special collections in the Modern Records Centre.


The Ethnicity and Migration collection

This comprises a large collection of books, pamphlets and journals on ethnicity and migration, which spans the 1960s to early 2000s. It includes the Sivanandan collection from the Institute of Race Relations and the CRER collection from the Centre for Research in Ethnic Relations. Geographical coverage includes UK, Europe, US, Latin America, Asia.

Location: Main University Library, Floor 5

You can search for these items via the Library catalogue.

 View the Sivanandan collection
 View the CRER collection search

Kitzinger collection

A large collection of art history offprints with personal inscriptions to Ernst Kitzinger, influential Harvard Byzantinist and medievalist art historian. All Kitzinger’s other papers are housed in America at the Getty Institute, California; Dumbarton Oaks and Harvard, Mass. Many of these items are book reviews so please bear that in mind when requesting items.

Location: Special collections in the Modern Records Centre.

All Kitzinger records on the Library catalogue have the classmark N5970 followed by EKC and a running number eg N 5970 EKC 936.

Marandet collection

The Marandet collection comprises an extensive collection of over 4000 18th and 19th century plays and represents an invaluable source of French popular theatre, particularly from the Revolution onwards.

Location: Special collections in the Modern Records Centre.

Half of this collection has also been digitised. Visit Warwick Digital Collections to view Marandet which also includes a pdf of the printed guide (Library Occasional Publication No. 6, 1979).

Martin Wright collection

A small collection of rare editions of United States and British poetry of the 1960s together with magazines form the collection of Martin Wright. Acquired in 1976 and 1983.

Location: Special collections in the Modern Records Centre.

Weiss & Hutton collections

The private libraries of two Renaissance scholars, Roberto Weiss and Edward Hutton, were acquired in 1969 and now form an important part of the Central Campus Library’s holdings in Italian history, literature and art. Edward Hutton, a well known amateur scholar in Italian fine art, history and arts during the inter-war period, had a particular interest in the history of the Franciscans. Professor Weiss was Head of the Department of Italian Studies at the University of London and collected in the area of humanism in Italy. The oldest part of the collection comprises over 500 16th, 17th and 18th imprints, including early Venetian editions of Boccaccio.

Location: Special Collections in the Modern Records Centre. The Boccaccio items have been digitized and can be accessed at Warwick Digital Collections.

Della fabrica del mondo
by Francesco Alunno, 1556,
part of the Boccaccio collection.

Floor 1 exhibition

We regularly showcase exhibitions in the cabinet located near the lifts on floor 1. Current exhibitions will be advertised here.

International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition

This display marks International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition. The Library highlights works from its collections on the tragedy of the slave trade, its abolition and consequences. It includes slave narratives, research from University of Warwick academics and items from the Ethnicity and Migration special collections.

 View previous exhibitons

Warwick Digital Collections

 Get involved!

Access arrangements

Main Library visitor information.

Modern Records Centre visitor information.

For security and conservation reasons special collections items held in the Modern Records Centre can usually only be read in the centre and are not for loan.


If you have a query relating to any of our rare or special collections please contact us via library at warwick dot ac dot uk