Important Works for the Study of Early Modern English Libraries
Bibliography of Early Modern English Library Catalogues
Alphabetical List of Private Book-Owners and Institutional Collections

Important Works and Web Sites for the Study of Early Modern English Libraries

Allison, A. F., and D. M. Rogers. A Catalogue of Catholic Books in English Printed Abroad or Secretly in England, 1558-1640. Bognor Regis: Arundel Press, 1958. Rpt., London, 1968.

Alston, R. C. Handlist of Library Catalogues and Lists of Books and Manuscripts in the British Library Department of Manuscripts. Bibliographical Society Occasional Publications #6. London: Bibliographical Society, 1991.

Alston, R. C. Books with Manuscript: A Short Title Catalogue of Books with Manuscript Notes in the British Library. London: British Library, 1994. [roughly 25,000 entries; includes indexes of owners and annotators]

Baker, William, and Kenneth Womack, eds. Pre-Nineteenth-Century British Book Collectors and Bibliographers. [Vol. 213 of the Dictionary of Literary Biography]. Detroit: Gale Group, 1999.

Besson, A. Classification in Private Library Catalogues of the English Renaissance, 1500-1640. Unpublished Ph.D. thesis, University College, London, 1988.

Birrell, T. A. "Books and Buyers in 17th-Century English Auction Sales." In Robin Myers, Michael Harris, and Giles Mandelbrote, eds., Under the Hammer: Book Auctions Since the Seventeenth Century (London: British Library, 2001), pp. 51-64.

Bloomfield, B. C. A Directory of Rare Book and Special Collections. London, 1997.

British Museum, Department of Printed Books. List of Catalogues of English Book Sales, 1676-1900. London, 1915.

Buettner, Brigitte. "Women and the Circulation of Books." Journal of the Early Book Society for the Study of Manuscripts and Printing History 4 (2001): 9-31.

Canterbury Cathedral Library: Provenance Names for Books Printed Before 1801. [a provisional list of more than 3000 former owners of books now held at Canterbury Cathedral Library; based on the provenance index in David Shaw and Sheila Hingley, et al., eds., Canterbury Cathedral Library: Catalogue of Pre-1801 Printed Books (Marlborough: Adam Matthew Publications, 1998), a microfiche catalogue]

Cavanaugh, Susan Hagen. A Study of Books Privately Owned in England, 1300-1450. 2 vols. Unpublished Ph.D. thesis, University of Pennsylvania, 1980.

Chartier, Roger. The Cultural Uses of Print in Early Modern France. Trans. Lydia G. Cochran. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1985. [see esp. ch. 5]

Cioranescu, Alexandru. Bibliographie de la littérature française du dix-septième siècle. 3 vols. Paris: Centre Nationale de la Recherche Scientifique, 1965, 1966.

Cioranescu, Alexandru. Bibliographie de la littérature française du seizième siècle. Paris, 1959; rpt. Geneva: Slatkine, 1975.

Clark, Lilian G. Collectors and Owners of Incunabula in the British Mueseum: Index of Provenances for Books Printed in France, Holland, and Belgium. Bath, 1962. [a provenance index to the British Museum Catalogue, VIII and IX]

Cole, George Watson. An Index to Bibliographical Papers Published by the Bibliographical Society and the Library Association, London, 1877-1932. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1933.

Consortium of European Research Libraries (CERL). [Provides links to a wide variety of provenance databases]

Curtis, Mark H. "Library Catalogues and Tudor Oxford and Cambridge." Studies in the Renaissance 5 (1958): 111-20.

De Ricci, Seymour. English Collectors of Books and Manuscripts, 1530-1930, and their Marks of Ownership. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1930; rpt. New York, 1969.

Dury, John. The reformed librarie-keeper, with a supplement to the reformed-school. Whereunto is added, I. An idea of mathematicks, II. The description of one of the chiefest libraries in Germany [i.e., that of Wolfenbüttel]. London, 1650. [Available in facsimile with an introduction by Richard Popkin and Thomas F. Wright; Augustan Reprint Society, no. 220; Los Angeles: Clark Memorial Library, 1983]

Eisenstein, Elizabeth. The Printing Revolution in Early Modern Europe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983.

English Short Title Catalogue (ESTC). [lists over 460,000 works published in the British Isles and in North America between 1473 and 1800; available online at the British Library:]

Feather, John. An Index to Selected Bibliographic Journals, 1971-1985. Oxford: Oxford Bibliographical Society, 1991.

Fehrenbach, Robert J., and Elisabeth S. Leedham-Green, eds. Private Libraries in Renaissance England: A Collection and Catalogue of Tudor and Early Stuart Book-Lists. 6 vols. to date. Binghamton, NY and Tempe, AZ: Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies; Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 1992-2004. [the first six volumes cover 150 private libraries]

Harthan, John P. "Armorial Bookbindings from the Clements Collection." Apollo (December, 1960): 179-83; (June, 1961): 186-91; (December, 1961): 165-71.

Harvard University Library, Online Archival Search Information System (OASIS). [online access to finding aids for archival and manuscript collections at Harvard; includes the Houghton Library's provenance file for printed books].

Hazlitt, William Carew. Collections and Notes, 1867-1876. London: Reeves and Turner, 1876. [detailed bibliographical entries on many early English printed books; followed by Bibliographical Collections and Notes on Early English Literature, 1474-1700, 2nd series (London: Quaritch, 1882); 3rd series (London: Quaritch, 1892); 4th series (London: Quaritch, 1903)]

Heaney, Howell J., and Rudolf Hirsch, eds. Selective Check Lists of Bibliographic Scholarship, Series B, 1956-1962. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1966.

Index Aureliensis: Catalogus librorum sedecimo saeculo impressorum. Baden-Baden: Aureliae Aquensis, 1965-. [a union catalogue for all books from the sixteenth century; will eventually have subject indices]

Index to Selected Bibliographic Journals, 1933-1970. London: The Bibliographical Society, 1982.

Jayne, Sears. “Some Tools for Research in the Intellectual History of the English Renaissance.” Shakespearean Research and Opportunities 5-6 (1970-71): 8-29.

Jayne, Sears. Library Catalogues of the English Renaissance. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1956; rpt. London: St. Paul’s Bibliographies, 1983. [lists 848 booklists from 1500-1640 which survive in various manuscript sources]

Johnson, Francis R. “Notes on English Retail Book-Prices, 1550-1640.” The Library 5th series, 5 (1950-51): 83-112.

Ker, N. R., ed. Medieval Libraries of Great Britain: A List of Surviving Books. 2nd ed. London: Royal Historical Society Guides and Handbooks, 1964. [a subsequent edition, published in London in 1987, offers a supplement edited by Andrew G. Watson]

Leedham-Green, Elisabeth S. Books in Cambridge Inventories: Book-Lists from the Vice-Chancellor’s Court Probate Inventories in the Tudor and Stuart Periods. 2 vols. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986. [provides about 200 book lists from probate inventories, 1536-1760]

Leedham-Green, Elisabeth S. “Private Libraries in Renaissance England.” Bulletin of the Society for Renaissance Studies 8:1 (1990): 20-21.

Leedham-Green, Elisabeth S., and Teresa Webber, eds. The Cambridge History of Libraries in Britain and Ireland, Volume 1: To 1640. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006.

Lowndes, William Thomas. The Bibliographer's Manual of English Literature, Containing an Account of Rare, Curious, and Useful Books, Published in or relating to Great Britain and Ireland, from the Invention of Printing; with bibliographical and critical notices, collations of the rarer articles, and the prices at which they have been sold. 4 vols. London: G. Bell & Sons, 1871.

Maunsell, Andrew. The Catalogue of English Printed Bookes. 2 parts. London, 1595; photographic reprint, London: Gregg Press, 1965. [part 1 mainly deals with works of divinity, part 2 with "the sciences mathematicall . . . Phisick and Surgerie, etc."]

McKitterick, David. “‘Ovid with a Littleton’: The Cost of English Books in the Early Seventeenth Century.” Transactions of the Cambridge Bibliographical Society 9, Part 2 (1997): 184-234.

Munby, A. N. L. "The Libraries of English Men of Letters." London: Library Association, 1964. Rpt. in Munby, Essays and Papers (London: Scolar Press, 1977).

Munby, A. N. L., gen. ed. Sale Catalogues of Libraries of Eminent Persons. 12 vols. London: Mansell with Sotheby Park-Bernet Publications, 1971-75. [mostly literary figures, mostly 18th century and later]

Munby, A. N. L., and Lenore Coral, eds. British Book Sale Catalogues, 1676-1800: A Union List. London: Mansell, 1977.

Nelson, Alan H. Provenance Index to UMI-STC Microfilms (1475-1640). [an index to former owners of many hundreds of books included in the UMI microfilm reels of STC books up to 1640]

Pearson, David, comp. English Book Owners in the Seventeenth Century: A Work in Progress Listing. [an evolving web site hosted by the Bibliographical Society of America; lists hundreds of seventeenth-century English book owners, along with citations to relevant articles, sale catalogues, DNB references, etc.] [

Pearson, David. Provenance Indexes for Early Printed Books and Manuscripts: A Guide to Present Resources. Self-published, 1987; reprinted with corrections and additions, 1989. [pp. 41-44 offer an annotated list of catalogues and studies of private collections]

Pearson, David. Provenance Research in Book History: A Handbook. London: British Library, 1994. [a valuable compilation of information regarding provenance research in many institutional libraries in the British Isles; reprinted with addenda, 1998]

Perkin, Michael, ed. A Directory of the Parochial Libraries of the Church of England and the Church in Wales. London: Bibliographical Society, 2004. [revised version of N. R. Ker's Parochial Libraries of the Church of England (1959)]

Pforzheimer Library. The Carl H. Pforzheimer Library, English Literature 1475-1700. Comp. Emma V. Unger and William A. Jackson. 3 vols. New Castle, DE: Oak Knoll Press, 1997. [detailed bibliographic entries on over 1100 English books printed before 1700, with a provenance index, pp. 1294-1300; the Pforzheimer Library is now held at the University of Texas, Austin]

Pollard, Alfred W., and G. R. Redgrave, comps. A Short-Title Catalogue of Books Printed in England, Scotland, & Ireland, and of English Books Printed Abroad, 1475-1640. Rev. Katharine F. Pantzer, W. A. Jackson, and F. S. Ferguson. 2nd ed., revised and enlarged. 3 vols. London: The Bibliographical Society, 1976-1991.

Ramage, David G., comp. A Finding-List of English Books to 1640 in Libraries in the British Isles, excluding the National Libraries and the Libraries of Oxford and Cambridge. Durham: Council of the Durham Colleges, 1958.

Risse, Wilhelm. Bibliographia Philosophica Vetus: Repertorium Generale Systematicum Operum Philosophicorum usque ad Annum MDCCC. 9 vols. Hildesheim: G. Olms, 1998. [chronological listing of philosophical works published up to 1800, including a year-by-year subject index and locations of many existing copies of books]

Rosenthal, Bernard M. The Rosenthal Collection of Printed Books with Manuscript Annotations: A Catalogue of 242 Editions Mostly Before 1600 Annotated by Contemporary or Near-Contemporary Readers. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1997. [includes an index of owners and annotators, pp. 387-89; the books themselves are now held at the Beinecke Library at Yale]

Schreiber, Fred. The Estiennes: An Annotated Catalogue of 300 Highlights of their Various Presses. New York: E. K. Schreiber, 1982.

Sherman, William H. Used Books: Marking Readers in Renaissance England. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007.

Thornton, John L., and R. I. J. Tully. Scientific Books, Libraries and Collectors. 3rd ed., revised. London, 1974; supplement, 1978.

Voet, L. The Plantin Press (1555-1589): A Bibliography of the Works Printed and Published by Christopher Plantin at Antwerp and Leiden. 6 vols. Amsterdam, 1980-83.

Watt, Robert. Bibliotheca Britannica: Or, A General Index to British and Foreign Literature. 4 vols. Edinburgh, 1824. [vols. 3-4 contain a fascinating subject index]

Williams, F. B. Index of Dedications in English Books before 1641. London, 1962.

Wing, Donald G. A Gallery of Ghosts: Books Published Between 1641-1700 Not Found in the Short-Title Catalogue. New York: Modern Language Association of America, 1967.

Wing, Donald G., comp. Short-Title Catalogue of Books Printed in England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales and British America and of English Books Printed in Other Countries, 1641-1700. 2nd ed., revised and enlarged. 3 vols. New York: Modern Language Association of America, 1972-1988.

Zwicker, Steven N. "Habits of Reading and Early Modern Literary Culture." In David Loewenstein and Janel Mueller, eds., The Cambridge History of Early Modern English Literature (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), pp. 170-98.


Hamlin, William M., comp. Early Modern English Library Catalogues: A Working Bibliography. Hosted by the Department of English at Washington State University.

Contact William M. Hamlin:

Original design and content © COPYRIGHT 2006 by William M. Hamlin