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The Collections: Guide to the Collections: American Literature

Sketch of friend Elisina Tyler by Edith Wharton.

American literature is one of the principal strengths of the Lilly Library. Beginning with Anne Bradstreet's The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up in America (London, 1650) and her Several Poems (Boston, 1678) and coming down to our own time, the Lilly Library provides a record of literary accomplishments in the United States. There are good holdings in both prose and verse from the 18th century and extensive collections of first and other important editions for all major and many minor 19th century American authors. Of particular note are the collections of James Fenimore Cooper, Edgar Allan Poe, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Herman Melville, Mark Twain and Walt Whitman.

Holdings in 20th century American literature are extensive. The manuscript materials include the principal archives of Upton Sinclair, Max Eastman, Sylvia Plath, Galway Kinnell, and others, as well as notable collections from Edith Wharton, Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, John Dos Passos, and several more recent writers. The archives of Bobbs-Merrill, Capra Press, and a number of little magazines have added substantially to our records of modern publishing and the authors represented in their files. In printed books, first and other significant editions of 20th century American authors now number well over 20,000 titles. Further, the Library maintains a standing order for first editions of new works by nearly three hundred living British and American writers.

Science fiction, including long runs of the more important "pulps," and detective fiction also are well represented.

Related exhibition catalogues include:

To purchase exhibition catalogues, see information on the Lilly Library's Publications. To search the Library's catalog and other finding aids, see the Collections page.

Top: Sketch of friend Elisina Tyler by Edith Wharton.

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Last updated: 21 November 2015

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