Scope of the collections and collecting policy
The London Library’s remarkable Italian Collections represent an extensive resource of research level interest covering a variety of subject areas, but with strengths in Fine Arts, Literature and History.
Since its inception in 1841, the London Library has actively collected material relevant to Italian studies and its remit. In the past, for selection and acquisition purposes, the Library relied on the expertise of eminent scholars, many of whom were also members of the Library, Italian émigrés and political exiles. 1 Amongst the latter was the political refugee Giuseppe Mazzini (1805-1872), a personal acquaintance of Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881), founder of the London Library. Several books and Italian materials were acquired through the Rolandi Bookshop, at the time based in Berners Street, Soho, in London, which had become a rendez-vous point for Italian refugees and a centre for cultural activity and debate. 2 Provenance of these books is still apparent – especially in the Literature section – bearing as they do the Rolandi’s trademark usually to the verso of the front cover. A notable example is the Foscolo edition of the Divine Comedy completed by Giuseppe Mazzini and published in London in 1842. The editors’ names are omitted and do not appear anywhere within the work as a mark of respect and homage to the “Sommo Poeta”.
The Italian Collections have grown steadily over time – suffering, perhaps inevitably, during the two world war periods. They include books in Italian, printed in Italy or about Italy, reflecting the interest of the British public for Italy, its culture and its 1 Further reading: Wicks, Margaret Campbell Walker, The Italian exiles in London, 1816-1848, Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1937. 2 Further reading: Tonella Regis, Franca, (ed.) I fratelli Rolandi di Quarona : editori e librai a Londra, Borgosesia: Società Valsesiana di Cultura, 2006. - 2 -civilisation. The Library has continuously maintained an active acquisition policy and benefited from several important donations and bequests. Valuable works have been donated to the Library by keen collectors of Italian materials and distinguished scholars such as A.J.P. Taylor, G.M. Trevelyan and Paget Toynbee, tomention a few. During 2009 in excess of 200 monographs in Italian were added to the Library’s holdings.
To capture the full extent of the Collections it is necessary to draw attention at the outset to their presence in many sections not labelled as “Italian”. There are notable strengths in: Art, covering all periods and aspects; Literature, including important critical editions; History, with an emphasis on the Renaissance and Risorgimento; Biography; and good representation in others subject areas. In those sections where a token presence only is tobe found, such as Italian Philosophy, the Library is nevertheless keen to augment the collections further. Even in those fields, however, the Library possesses the representative work of all major authors and a selection of others.
Italian material in the Social Sciences is acquired more selectively. All influential authors are represented however and the Library holds the work of writers and scholars such as: Gaetano Mosca, Antonio Gramsci, Norberto Bobbio. Works by historical scientists (e.g. Leonardo da Vinci, Galileo Galilei, etc.) are acquired but collecting is otherwise limited to the history of science and modern developments at a general reader level. With a few exceptions (e.g. Gianni Rodari) children’s books are not purchased.
Within the Italian Collections, books are acquired primarily in English and Italian, although other languages are represented too. At its core are approximately 25,000 items in Italian. It is recommended that the catalogues are consulted for locations of specific works. For further information, suggestions or comments on the Italian Collections please contact Andrea Del Cornò Tel. (020) 7766 4723
firstname.lastname@example.org or the Enquiry Desk.
The Library acquires materials in all areas of Italian literature. The Italian Literature Collections include all the major Italian writers, from Dante, Petrarch, Boccaccio, Machiavelli, Ariosto and Tassoto Foscolo, Leopardi, Manzoni, Verga, D’Annunzio, Calvino, Sciascia and Moravia.
The Library maintains a strong collection in all areas of Italian literature and drama, from the medieval and Renaissance periods onwards, including literary philosophy and theory. Critical studies, scholarly editions and works of reference are present too. The Dante Collection merits special mention. A size able number of works were donated in 1910 by the Dante scholar Dr. Paget Jackson Toynbee, Fellow of the Oxford Dante Society. Inaddition to several editions of Dante’s complete works and critical commentaries both in Italian and English, the Library possesses the series Lectura Dantis for the years 1889-1934, Il Giornale dantesco for the years 1894-1915 (v. 1 to v. 23), the original edition of Paul Colomb de Batines Bibliografia dantesca- 4 -published 1845-1846, and the recently acquired Enciclopedia dantesca [R.R. Dicts., Poets & Prose Writers, Dante]. Of noteare the Comedia di Dante degli Allagherii col commento di Jacopo di Giovanni della Lana, published in 1864-1865 in honour of the city of Bologna, birth place of Jacopo della Lana, author of one of the first commentaries on Dante’s Divine Comedy, and the so-called Dantino, one of the smallest-size edition of the Divine Comedy ever produced using typographical characters (its dimensions are 57 x 34 mm).
The fiction section [L. Italian Fiction] complements the holding sand offers a rich array of works from the “classics” tocontemporary authors such as Umberto Eco, Andrea Camilleri and others. The section includes scarce works which are not longer readily available, as for example the novel Clelia by Giuseppe Garibaldi, published in 1870.
Located on the 3rd floor of the Literature Stacks in the St.James’s Building, the Italian Literature Collection is arranged within the following subject subdivisions:
L. Italian Anthols. : includes poetry and prose anthologies and collected works of more than a single author.
L. Italian Drama, Hist. of : includes works and studies of general criticism on Italian Drama and its history.
L. Italian Fiction : includes a wide range of novels and short stories, all in the original Italian. All major authors, past and present, are represented.
L. Italian Fiction, Trans. : includes translations of Italian fiction into languages other than English.
Please note that Italian works of fiction translated into English are to be found in the main Fiction section of the Library in the Central Stack.
L. Italian Lit., Hist. of : includes works on the general history of Italian Literature and comprises standard works from the 19th and 20th century such as Storia della letteratura italiana by Girolamo Tiraboschi; Compendio di storia della letteratura italiana by Natalino Sapegno; Letteratura italiana edited by Alberto Asor Rosa, etc.
L. Italian Lit. : includes editions of collected works of all major Italian authors, in addition to individual works of poetry, drama and essays by a wide range of authors. This section includes scholarly editions, works of criticism and commentaries.
History and Biography
The History section [H. Italy], located on Level 3 of the Back Stacks, includes works covering the history of the Italian Peninsula from prehistory to the present with an emphasis on the Renaissance, the Risorgimento in particular, the First and Second World War periods and Fascist Italy. The depth of the holdings covering the Unification of Italy and the Risorgimento was praised in a letter by the historian G. M. Trevelyan which is preserved in the Library’s archives. Post-1945 history is also well represented. The core of the Collection, dating from the 19th century, has been maintained and continuously augmented and the Library possesses many 19th and 20th century standard historical works such as Spellanzon’s Storia del Risorgimento, Storia d’Italia: Annali published by Einaudi and Storia d’Italia published by UTET.
Other notable holdings comprise Muratori’s Rerum Italicarum Scriptores (including the Argelati edition dated 1723-1751), Muratori’s Annali d’Italia and Alberti’s Historiae patriae monumenta. In addition, the Library collects primary sources, such as the series Documenti diplomatici italiani, albeit currently incomplete, and other official publications.
The shelf mark H. Italy, Constit. Hist. (immediately following H.Italy) includes works on Italian governmental institutions and constitutional history. The shelfmark H. Italy, Social &c. includes a rich array of workson Italian economic, social and cultural history. Particularly well coveredare subject areas such as: the Italian “Economic Miracle”of the 1970s, the divide between the North and the South, and the transition from the “First” to the “Second Republic”, though some works on this latter topic may be found in H. Italy due to their specific content. Several of the independent states which constituted Italy before its unification in 1861 have been assigned individual shelfmarksas for example:
A complete list of shelfmarks is readily available at the Enquiry Desk and on the Library’s website.
Works of history on circumscribed geographical areas may befound in Topography due to their specific content.
Additionally present are shelfmarks for individual Italian kings and queens. These comprise biographies as well as works covering the history of the period. Examples include:
H. Carolina of Naples
H. Charles Albert, King of Sardinia
H. Murat (J.), King of Naples
H. Victor Emanuel II, King of Italy
H. Victor Emanuel III, King of Italy
The shelfmark H. Colonies, Italian includes works on all Italian colonies (additional materials can be found in the corresponding History section for a specific country, such as H. Abyssinia, H.Eritrea, H. Libya, etc.) and Italian colonialism generally. The shelfmark H. Army, Italian includes works on Italian military history. A sizeable amount of additional material can be found in H. European War I for works relating to the First World War andin H. European War II for works relating to the Second World War. There are also individual shelfmarks relating to particular events or periods such as: H. Renaissance; H. Turco-Italian War (related to the Turco-Italian war of 1911-1912).
Please note the separate sequences for oversize books on Level 2 of the Back Stacks, such as: H. Italy, 4to. and H. Italy, folio.
Each of these shelfmarks can be found in its alphabetical position in the History section, across Levels 2, 3 and 4 of the Back Stacks. Material on the history of the Papacy is to be found under the shelfmark H. Papacy.
Material on the history of ancient Rome is to be found under the shelfmark H. Rome (Ancient).
Material on the Mafia and organised crime in Italy is to be found under the shelfmark H. Secret Societies.
Material on Etruscans and Etruria is to be found under theshelfmark H. Etruria.
Biographies and autobiographies, including diaries and correspondence, of notable Italian figures, are located in the main Biography section on the 3rd and 4th floors of the Central Stack.
Most monarchs and rulers have been assigned their own shelfmarks within the History section on Level 2, 3 and 4 where biographical works and works covering specific periods can be found. The Library holds extensive biographical material onliterary authors, artists, philosophers and statesmen. Members’attention is drawn to autobiographical materials and correspondence of literary authors being included in the Literature section.
Collections of biographies are to be found under the shelfmark Biographical Colls. located on the 3rd floor of the Central Stack.
The Library’s wide-ranging collection of biographical dictionaries, shelved in the North Bay of the main Reading Room, under the shelfmark R.R. Dicts., Biography, includes a number of works on Italian authors, artists, and notable historic figures, such as the Dizionario biografico degli italiani and the Biographical and bibliographical dictionary of the Italian humanists and of the world of classical scholarship in Italy, 1300-1800 by Mario Emilio Cosenza.
Fine and Applied Arts3
The Library’s extensive collection of material on Italian, artistsand architects – located in the newly refurbished Art Room, off the Main Hall on the Ground Floor and through T. S. Eliot House– represents one of the major strengths of the Italian Collections. All periods and aspects of Italian art are covered. Catalogues raisonnés and exhibition catalogues for art exhibitions held in the United Kingdom, United States and Italy are systematically acquired, together with catalogues of major museums and artgalleries.
The Art Collections include an extremely rich array of material on Italian art and artists, primarily in Italian and English. Books in Italian on general art history and criticism are present too.
Within the Collections’ arrangements, books covering more than one form of art are shelved at A. Art. Books on individual artists can be found in the subsections related to a specific form of art (e.g. A. Painting, Caravaggio; A. Sculpture, Michelangelo; A.Architecture, Bernini, etc.). Additionally other shelfmarks such as A. Christian Art, A. Illumination of Manuscripts, include asizeable amount of works relevant to Italian art.
Exhibition catalogues are shelved alphabetically under the exhibition title, and museum catalogues can be found under the name of the museum.
Throughout the art collections, it is important to note that for every subject areas the sequences comprising oversize books (labelled 4to., small folio and folio) are equally rich as the main book sequence (octavo). 3 For further details on the Art Collection holdings please refer to A guide to the Art Collections.
Topography and travel
The Library’s sizeable Topography collections are located on Level 1 of the Back Stacks. The Topography collections include archaeology, architecture, geography, local history, travel writing and some older guide books. Please note that in addition to the main subject sequence there are two further sequences for oversize books (labelled 4to., and folio respectively).
The shelfmark T. Italy covers a wide range of subject areas, comprising works on Italian geography, archaeology, and the history of individual towns and cities, including buildings, churches, museums etc. The collection includes some maps, plans, and a notable range of memoirs and travellers’ impressionsby foreign visitors to Italy particularly as part the Grand Tour.
In addition to the shelfmark T. Italy, there are individuals helfmarks for several geographical areas. Examples include:
A complete list of shelfmarks is readily available at the Enquiry Desk and on the Library’s website
Works on the city of Rome have been grouped under the shelfmark T. Rome – Rome being one of the three world cities (together with London and Paris) to which an individual shelfmark has been assigned. T. Rome includes works on Rome, its surroundings and the Vatican City.
The Library’s main collection of Guide Books is located in the Issue Hall gallery. All guide books are available for loan.
In addition, the Library possesses the complete set of the Guida d’Italia del Touring Club Italiano (23 vols.) held, for reference only, in the main Reading Room.
Philosophy and Religion
The Library’s Philosophy collection (located on the 3rd floor of the Central Stack) focuses on primary texts: the works of all major Italian philosophers such as Giordano Bruno, Giambattista Vico, Benedetto Croce, etc. are represented. The Library’s Religion section is located on the 5th floor of the Central Stack (oversize 4to. volumes are shelved in a separate single sequence R. Religion, 4to. on the 6th floor). This section includes various version of the Bible in Italian or Latin shelved at R. Bible, R. Old Testament, R. New Testament and the shelfmarks R. Italy, Eccles. Hist. and R. Church & State covering the religious history of Italy and Church-State relations since Italian Unification. Volumes in Religion, folio are kept in secure accommodation but can be made available for consultation in the main Reading Room
Languages, dictionaries, etc.
An extensive range of Italian language dictionaries is available in the main Reading Room at R.R. Dicts., Italian – ranging from the Grande dizionario italiano dell'uso edited by Tullio de Mauro to the Grande dizionario della lingua italiana edited by Salvatore Battaglia. Older language dictionaries can be found in the Philology, Italian section (2nd floor, Mezzanine, Central Stack) and are available forloan. The Philology, Italian section comprises a range of works,in both Italian and English, about the Italian language, includingits history, grammar and usage, and dialects. Titles include: Osservazioni della lingua italiana raccolte dal Cinonio (1809-1813); The Italian language today (1979) by Anna Laura and Giulio Lepschy; Storia linguistica dell’Italia unita (2006) by Tullio de Mauro; Dictionaries and glossaries of some of the most popular Italian dialects are also present as well as a facsimilere production of the Vocabulario italiano by Tesauro Emanuele.
Science and Miscellaneous
Works by Italian authors are represented through the Science and Miscellaneous Collections (located on Levels 4, 5 and 6 of the Back Stacks) covering a great variety of topics. For example works by Galileo Galilei can be found in the section S. Astronomy, and works by Antonio Gramsci can be found in the section S. Social Science. The Library possesses the fifty volume work Scrittori classici italiani di economia politica shelved at S.Political Economy. Other relevant shelfmarks include: S. Food; S.Garden; S. Music; S. Opera.Works on Italian cinema can be found at S. Cinematograph.
Bibliography and Library
CataloguesThe Bibliography collection (located on the 5th floor of the Central Stack) comprises a good selection of Italian related bibliographies and library catalogues.The section Bibliog. Italian covers bibliographies of books writtenin the Italian language or published in Italy across all subjects. Bibliographies of books on Italian history can be found at Bibliog. History, Europe such as Bibliografia dell'età del Risorgimento and Bibliografia dell'età del Risorgimento 1970-2001. Bibliog. Topography &c. (Gen.) includes bibliographies of workson particular places such as Viaggiatori italiani e stranieri in Sicilia by Giuseppe Pitrè or Bibliografia storica delle città e luoghi dello Stato Pontificio by Ranghiasci Luigi. Bibliographies of works of particular authors can be found at Bibliog. Biog. followed by the name of a particular author, such as for example Bibliog. Biog., Verga. Bibliog. Libraries includes works on notable Italian libraries including the Vatican Library and the Vatican Secret Archives. Library catalogues, including some Italian ones, can be found at Bibliography (Gen.). For details of online catalogues of libraries with collections of Italian interest see the section on Internet resources below. Material on the history of Italian printing and the book-trade in Italy is to be found under the shelfmarks Bibliog. Printing. and Bibliog. Publishing.
The core Reference collection is located in the Library’s main Reading Room (on the first floor of the St. James’s Building). At the shelfmark R.R. Dicts, Italian there is a range of reference copies of Italian-language dictionaries. Additionally, the section includes reference works on Italian literature, such as the Oxford companion to Italian literature (2002). The Library possesses general encyclopedias in the Italian language, shelved in alphabetical order (by title) in R.R.Encyclopedias. Titles include: Enciclopedia italiana di scienze, lettere ed arti [i.e. Enciclopedia Treccani] and the Enciclopedia italiana published under the editorship of Giovanni Gentile. Some dictionaries and other works of reference such as Dizionario del Risorgimento, Dizionario dell’Unità d’Italia, Dizionario della Resistenza are located in their respective section and available for loan.
“Nozze” Special Collection and Rare Books Collections
Originally part of the Italian Literature section, there is a Collection of nuptials – writings printed on the occasion of marriage - or “Per Nozze” publications. Outside Italy this collection represents a unique resource the importance of whichis comparable only to the collection of nuptials held at the Biblioteca Nazionale in Florence. The Library’s “Nozze” Collection (held within the Safe Collections) amounts to in excess of 1600 pamphlets, bound together in 144 volumes and boxes numbered in sequence and divided into “Poetry”, “Prose” and “Miscellanea” according to their content. Of these writings, over 800 have been published- 15 -anonymously. The earliest item within the Collection is Ilgiudizio di Paride by Michelangelo Buonarroti, dated 1608.Several works feature fine engravings and printers’ devices and,in some cases, the original bindings have been preserved. TheNozze Collection includes a number of publications which werenot intended to celebrate marriage but rather different occasions,such as all kinds of anniversaries, the taking of religious vows and promotions. These, more correctly, are usually referred to asingressi, gratulatorie, or pubblicazioni d’occasione. 4 Some of theworks held by the Library, as far as can be ascertained, are not tobe found in Italian libraries. A facsimile collection of writing “Per Nozze” composed by thearchivist and local historian Luigi Fumi, published recently by the Istituto Artistico Orvietano, is available in the Literature section [L. Italian Lit.]. The Nozze Collection has yet to be added to the Library’s on line catalogue and members should consult the main printed catalogue located in the Catalogue Hall. Works within the Collection are listed under the general heading “Nozze”.
Rare Books Collections
The Library possesses a notable collection of early printed books dating from the early 16th century including various works in Latin and Italian, or otherwise printed in Italy. The oldest book possessed by the Library would appear to be thework in Italian by Benivieni Girolamo (a portrait of whom can beseen at the National Gallery) Commento di Hierony. B. sopra apiu sue canzone et sonetti dello amore et della belleza divina, a4 Further reading: Pettoello, Alberta Libri illustrati veneziani del Settecento: le pubblicazioni d’occasione, Venezia: Istituto Veneto di scienze, lettere ed arti, 2005. book of ascetic poetry, printed in Florence and dated 1500, a late example of incunabula. In among the riches of the Italian material within the Rare Books Collection, the work of the Venetian printer Aldo Manuzio merits special mention. The Library possesses a 1502 edition of Dante’s Terze Rime. Other rarities include a first edition of Pietro Bembo’s Gli Asolani, printed in Venice in 1505 by Aldus Manutius and a first edition of Antonio Corso’s Rime, printed in Venice in 1550, of which only six copies are known to be extant. Amongst the Italian authors represented are: Dante, Petrarch, Boccaccio, Ariosto, Alciati, Palladio, Tasso, D’Annunzio, Marinetti. Some of these works are enriched by splendid examples of woodcut illustrations and, in some cases, the original bindings have been preserved. Material within the Rare Books Collection can be borrowed in compliance with the Library’s rules or, when not available for loan, books can be made available for consultation in the main Reading Room.
Periodicals and Journals
The Library maintains current subscriptions to the following periodical titles and society publications of Italian interest or inItalian (latest issues are available for consultation in the main Reading Room. Earlier back issues are available for loan in bound volumes. Current issues of titles marked * are not displayed in the Reading Room racks: please enquire at the Reading Room Enquiry Desk orat the Issue Desk in the main hall):
Archivio Storico Italiano*
Artibus and Historiae*
Bibliofilia Giornale Storico della Letteratura Italiana *
Italia Mediovale e Umanistica *
Italian StudiesItaliana *
Journal of Anglo-Italian Studies
Reale Accademia dei Lincei: Monumenti Antichi *
Renaissance Studies Rivista Storica Italiana *
Studi Secenteschi *
Studi Storici *
Studi Veneziani *
I Tatti Studies *
The Library retains open-access collections of early periodicals. This section includes amongst others the journal titles:
Archivio Storico Italiano
La Critica: rivista di letteratura, storia e filosofia
Giornale critico della filosofia italiana
Giornale de’ Letterati d’Italia
Giornale Storico della Letteratura Italiana
Nuova Antologia Nuova Informazione Bibliografica
Il Risorgimento italiano: rivista storica
Rivista Storica Italiana
Additionally, the Library possesses some facsimile reprints of journals and periodicals, such as a complete run of La Rivoluzione Liberale, the short-lived journal published under the editorship of Pietro Gobetti (Safe, 4to.); Il Monitore Napoletano (H. Naples); Il Repubblicano (H. Bologna). The Library subscribes to L’Indice dei libri del mese a monthly journal of book reviews. The current issue is available in the main Reading Room.
The Library collects and holds various academies and learn edsocieties publications (located in the Upper Basement, adjacent tothe Times Room). Amongst publications relevant to Italian studies are: Studi Veneziani, published by the Fondazione Cini of Venice, works published by the Accademia dei Lincei and by the Regia deputazione di Storia Patria. At the shelfmark Societies, Hist. of there are accounts of the history of several Italian societies and institutions.
Through the Library’s website members can access, via both the Library’s terminals or remotely, a wide range of electronic journals, databases and other electronic publications (http://www.londonlibrary.co.uk/elibrary/index asp). Amongs to thers, journals of relevance to Italian studies are Italian Studies, Studies in the Renaissance and I Tatti. Additionally, the Library enables members to access JSTOR, the electronic periodicals archive providing access to back-runs of over 750 periodical titles, including, for example, the journals Studi Storici and Italica.
General resources and subject gateways:
Anni Stregati A website produced by the Fondazione Bellonci and dedicated to the “Premio Strega”, the prestigious Italian literary prize http://www.fondazionebellonci.it/test/home.html
Archivio Storico Italiano On line http://www.storia.unifi.it/asidspt/ASI/Apertura.htm
Quarterly journal founded by Giovan Pietro Vieusseux in 1842 –the oldest historical journal published in Italy Art libraries.netA virtual catalogue for Art History http://artlibraries.net/index_en.php
Dizionario Garzanti Italian dictionary http://www.garzantilinguistica.it
IPCat: Italian Periodicals Catalogue An online catalogue of Italian periodicals in the humanities and social sciences as held in major UK and Irish libraries http://ipcat.leeds.ac.uk
Italinemo: Riviste di Italianistica nel mondo A bibliographic database of abstracts covering Italian literaturehttp://www.italinemo.it/
Liber LiberA freely accessible Italian digital libraryhttp://www.liberliber.it/
OVI Opera del vocabolario italianoA historical dictionary of the Italian language http://www.ovi.cnr.it/
Oxford ParaviaItalian/English – English/Italian dictionary http://www.oxfordparavia.it/
Corriere della Sera http://www.corriere.it/
La Repubblica http://www.repubblica.it/
Il Sole 24 Ore http://www.ilsole24ore.com/ (Of particular interest is the Sunday edition dedicated to fine arts, literature, history, science, etc.)
Italian book reviews
L’Indice dei libri del mese http://www.lindiceonline.com/
Library catalogues Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze http://www.bncf.firenze.sbn.it/
Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Roma http://www.bncrm.librari.beniculturali.it/
Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana Venezia http://marciana.venezia.sbn.it/
EDIT: censimento nazionale delle edizioni italiane del XVI secolo http://edit16.iccu.sbn.it/
Istituto Centrale per il Catalogo Unico OPAC SBN http://opac.sbn.it/opacsbn/opac/iccu/informazioni.jsp
Manus online: censimento dei manoscritti delle bibliotecheitaliane http://manus.iccu.sbn.it/
UK-based societies and organisations British-Italian Society http://www.british-italian.org/
Friends of Italian Studies http://igrs.sas.ac.uk/centres-societies/friends-of-italianstudies.html
Italian Cultural Institute London http://www.icilondon.esteri.it/
IIC_LondraItalian Studies Library Group
Society for Italian Studies
Andrea Del Cornò
The London Library