English & American Literature

Many of the Department’s strengths fall under the heading of English and American literature. Perhaps best known in this category are the Little Magazines Collection and the Cairns Collection of American Women Writers. In addition to the listed collections below, the Department’s holdings also include first editions of major English and American authors, editions published during their lifetime, as well as works published before 1801. Both the Library Catalog and the card catalog in the Department afford convenient ways to identify copies of such titles. Please note: In the case of many of these authors, circulating copies of works are also often available in the general stacks in Memorial Library.

Collection strengths and named collections

Cover of the 1905 edition of Louisa M. Alcott's Under the lilacs. Image from the digital collection Publishers Bindings Online, 1815-1930. University of Wisconsin Digital Collection.
Cover of the 1905 edition of Louisa M. Alcott’s Under the lilacs. Image from the digital collection Publishers’ Bindings Online, 1815-1930, a joint venture of the libraries of the University of Alabama and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
  • American gift-books & annuals. A collection of some 400 volumes, initiated by the late Professor Cairns and still being enlarged. Mostly items are located in Memorial Library stacks with call no. AY (LC classification) or Y .95… (Cutter Classification). In searching, use the subject heading “Gift-books.” A few are in Special Collections, and some are available in microform in the Microform/Media Center (443 Memorial Library).
  • Armed Service editions. Collection U. Well over 100 examples of compact paperbacks distributed to American troops in World War II; mostly popular American fiction. Individual titles represented in the Library Catalog with call numbers beginning Coll. U. Most were the gift of William Schuette.
  • British Amateur Journalism. Collection ZB. Some 8500 titles dating from about 1912 to the early 1970s, collected by Ralph A.L. Breed.
  • Cairns Collection of American Women Writers 1650-1940. The voices of women in American literary history reflect visions and styles as diverse as their experiences. Collecting the record of these authors—some very well known, others often neglected, some anonymous—is the purpose and goal of this collection.
  • Cruikshank Collection. Works illustrated by noted English illustrator George Cruikshank (1792-1878) or Isaac Robert Cruikshank (1789-1850). A shelf-list is available in the Department (call numbers CA 8900-CA 9017), plus 50 additional titles listed in the Department’s author/title card catalog. Some titles are cataloged in the Library Catalog.
  • English Grammar Collection (also known as the Benjamin David Berry Collection). English grammars (17th-20th century) acquired in 1923. The collection includes titles not typically not found in U.S. research libraries. The works in this collection are divided between Special Collections and the Memorial Library circulating collections.
  • Library of Amateur Journalism. Gift of The Fossils, an organization dedicated to the history of amateur journalism, especially in the United States. This large and complicated collection includes, among other materials, the Edwin Hadley Smith Collection. Notable among the Edwin Hadley Smith materials are scores of bound volumes of issues of amateur journals from the 19th century through the middle of the 20th. Other portions of the Library of Amateur Journalism collection include issues of amateur journals of more recent vintage, arranged by amateur journalism organization and then by date. A finding aid is available in the Department.
  • Little Magazines Collection (sometimes called the Sukov Collection). Contains runs of more than 7,000 experimental English-language literary magazines (ca. 1900-the present). All titles are reflected in the Library Catalog: search there for the subject “Little magazines” to see the scope of the collection.
  • Manuscripts Collection. These holdings supplement the Twentieth Century Collection, the Cairns Collection, and other printed works in the Department’s holdings. Authors include, among others, Felicia Hemans, Mary Russel Mitford, Laura Riding, Mary Imlay Taylor, Delmore Schwartz, and Rebecca West.
  • Twentieth Century Collection. Works by prominent writers in the English language. Many titles are cataloged in the Library Catalog.
Cover of the little magazine after hours (winter 2015), as noted in the Little Magazines Collection blog.
Cover of the little magazine after hours (winter 2015), as noted in the Little Magazines Collection blog.

Author Collections

  • Felix Pollak Collection. Little magazines containing poetry by Pollak (1909-1987), other writings, and books and manuscripts of distinguished modern literary figures and their correspondence with Pollak. Supplements the Little Magazines Collection.
  • Carl Rakosi Collection. Manuscripts collection F. Letters, manuscripts, work sheets, clippings, poetry readings, and miscellaneous items by poet Carl Rakosi, born 1903 in Berlin (as Callman Rawley), educated in Hungary and at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Other published materials are located in the Twentieth Century Collection.
  • Kenneth Fearing Collection. Manuscripts collection B. Manuscripts, personal letters and business correspondence. Other published materials are housed in the Twentieth Century Collection.
  • D.M. Thomas Collection. Manuscripts–D.M.Thomas, MS 229. Manuscripts of poetry, notebooks, and a manuscript copy of The White Hotel. Published materials by Thomas (born in Britain in 1935) are available in the Twentieth Century Collection.
  • Thornton Wilder Collection. Manuscripts–Thornton Wilder, MS-150. Sixty letters (1946-1975) from Wilder to an aspiring writer, Sally Higginson. The Department also holds many of Wilder’s published works in the Twentieth Century Collection.
  • Zona Gale Collection. Manuscripts–Zona Gale, MS-226. Letters and manuscripts by Zona Gale (1874-1938), a writer from Portage, Wisconsin. Related materials are in the Library and Archives of the Wisconsin Historical Society.
  • O. Henry (William Sydney Porter) Collection. This collection includes first editions plus several items of Porteriana and a signed document. Gift of Norman Bassett in 1958. Shelf-list available in the Department card catalog (call numbers 1222047 noncurrent -1222069 noncurrent).
  • Mark Twain Collection. Two collections from George H. Brownell and Norman Bassett, containing some 370 items, with many ephemeral materials by and about Twain (1835-1910), as well as many first periodical appearances and first editions. Listing available in Special Collections.
  • John Milton Collection. Early editions of Milton’s works, plus works by contemporary European poets and miscellaneous works on subjects of interest to Milton. Donated by the late Professor Merritt Y. Hughes and Grace Hughes. Shelf list available in the Special Collections card catalog (call numbers CA 4873 – CA 5009).
  • William Wordsworth Collection (also known as the Arthur Beatty Collection). Nearly 100 titles donated by Beatty, professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, with many others located in the circulating collections of Memorial Library. Shelf list available in the Special Collections card catalog (call numbers 1213952 noncurrent -1214141 noncurrent).
  • Norman Bassett Collection. Includes works by Dickens, Bellamy, Cooper, James Joyce. Also works by or about Eugene O’Neill (1888-1953), other published works are available in the Twentieth Century Collection. Shelf list available in the Special Collections card catalog (call numbers 1219748 noncurrent -1219757 noncurrent).
  • William Stanley Marshall Collection. First or early editions of literature, poetry, and travel by Byron, Longfellow, Thomas Jefferson, Holmes, Whittier, etc. Acquired about 1950 from Marshall, professor of zoology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. An additional sixty titles were later donated by the family. Shelf list available in the Special Collections card catalog (call numbers 971912 noncurrent – 972206 noncurrent).
  • Ruth Coons Wallerstein Collection. Library assembled by Wallerstein, professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Includes first and early editions from Elzevier, Jansen, Plantin, and other famous publishing houses as well as literary classics of the 17th century. Acquired in 1958. Shelf list available in the Special Collections card catalog (call numbers 1084076 noncurrent -1084175 noncurrent).
  • Jonathan Swift Collection. Some one hundred items acquired in 1962 from the estate of Dr. Herman Teerink, including 18th-century editions, first editions, and editions with commentaries.
  • L. Frank Baum / Oz Collection. Collection W. Some forty editions of the Wizard of Oz.
  • Thornton Burgess Collection. Collection T. About one hundred titles, many inscribed. Formerly in the Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC) on campus.