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Special Collections

Formed collections on a range of subjects
  • Anderson Collection

    Private library of John Anderson (1893-1962), Scottish born philosopher and educator. Anderson was Challis Professor of Philosophy at the University of Sydney from 1927 until 1958. Many of his essays, papers and letters are listed in the Australian Digital Collections.

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  • Brennan Collection

    Private library of Christopher Brennan (1870-1932), the Australian poet, author and scholar. Brennan was Associate Professor of German and Comparative Literature at the University of Sydney from 1920 to 1925. The collection is on permanent loan from St John's College, University of Sydney. Some of Brennan's papers and correspondence are also held in the Rare Books and Special Collections Library's Manuscript Collections.

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  • Chadwick Collection

    Research collection of Norse and Celtic studies material from the library of Professor Nora Chadwick (1891-1972), University of Cambridge, a leading mid-twentieth century scholar in the field of Celtic Studies. The collection is particularly strong in scholarly monographs and facsimiles of medieval manuscripts.

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  • Comics Collection

    Part of the Science Fiction Collection. It contains over 1500 titles from the 1930s to the present and includes publications from the United States, Australia, Canada and England as well as a limited number of French publications.

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    Printed guide at Rare Books & Special Collections
  • Dalley Scarlett Collection

    Private library of Robert Dalley-Scarlett (1887-1959), the Australian composer and scholar of music. It contains more than 24,800 items and includes early editions of Handel operas and oratorios, early editions of works by Lully and Arne, Henry Purcell's collection, Orpheus Britannicus, and wartime Russian editions of works by Khachaturian, Prokofiev and Shostakovich. Along with the Edward Richardson collection of early editions of Handel the Rare Books and Special Collections Library's Handel collection is the largest outside the United Kingdom.

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    Card catalogue and online catalogue
  • De La Mare Collection

    Collection of materials by and about Walter De La Mare (1873-1953), the English poet and author. Originally formed by De La Mare's bibliographer, Leonard Clark, the collection also includes 31 letters to the poet Clive Sansom covering the period 1938-1955.

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  • Deane Collection

    Collection of William H. Deane, the Rare Books and Special Collection Library's largest benefactor. The collection comprises the remainder of Deane's private library after part of the original collection was destroyed by fire, and materials purchased from the Deane funds to supplement the collection. Its strengths are material on the history and philosophy of science, witchcraft, demonology and significant Australiana. The Deane collection also includes a large collection of erotica as well as the Deane business archives.

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    Card catalogue and online catalogue

    (Deane Erotica Collection listed separately in the online catalogue)

  • Detective Fiction Collection

    Although called 'detective fiction', 'crime fiction' would be a better description of the works held in the collection. Holdings range the gamut of the genre, from murder and detective stories to spy fiction, psychological thrillers and police procedurals. All publishing formats are included, including variant editions, covers and multi-media. True crime material is not collected.

    Holdings includes novels, short stories, plays, classic children’s books (such as Emil and the Detectives), and periodicals (including a set of the Strand Magazine in which Sherlock Holmes made his first appearance). The collection is strongest in English material, with Australian, English and American titles predominant. However, there are also non-English language works held (such as those by Vidocq and Simenon in French), as well as English translations. In addition, critical works about the genre are collected.

    There is a Australian component to the collection ranging from major 19th century authors such as John Lang, Ellen Davitt, Marcus Clarke and Fergus Hume; through the 20th century with, for example, writers such as Arthur Upfield, Pat Flower, Margot Neville and Jon Cleary through to the recent flowering of Australian crime writers, including Peter Corris, Barry Maitland, Clair McNab, et al.

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    Card catalogue and online catalogue

    (Some pre-1992 materials uncatalogued)

  • Elkin Collection

    Private reference library of A.P. Elkin (1891-1979), the noted Australian anthropologist and ethnographer and Professor of Anthropology at the University of Sydney from 1934 to 1956. Elkin's original typed list of the contents of the collection is available. Elkin's personal archives are held in the University of Sydney Archives.

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  • Heymanson Collection

    Collection of Sir Randolph Heymanson (1903-1984), journalist and editor of the Australian Newspapers Service, New York, from 1940 to 1969. The collection consists of erotica, including novels and illustrated books, mostly published prior to 1980.

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  • Jacobs Collection

    Research material relating to the Pacific Islands up to 1914 from the British Foreign Office and the Deutsches Zentralarchiv, Potsdam, donated by Emeritus Professor Marjorie Jacobs.

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    Printed guide at Rare Books & Special Collections
  • Kipling Collection

    Collection of the works of Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936), the English novelist, short story writer and poet, compiled by the collector Frederick Storch and donated to the Rare Books and Special Collections Library. It includes many first editions, American copyright editions and other limited issues of Kipling's works.

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  • Knocker Collection

    Though based in London at 1 Mitre Court Buildings, the Temple, much of Captain H.W.Knocker’s professional work as a solicitor dealt with Manors. On these, their courts, their history and procedure, he was regarded as a leading authority. He acted as Steward of many local manors in Kent and the area around Coventry and was a great collector of records dealing with this area. Captain Knocker is known to have donated collections of manuscript material to several institutions and this particular collection was presented to the University of Sydney Law School in April of 1938.

    The items in the collection range in date from 1334 to 1935 and include not only manuscripts but also a small number of books and pamphlets. Among the various types of manuscript are charters of feoffment, deeds of grant, bargains and sales, fines, releases, and covenants. .

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  • Lawson Collection

    Collection of printed first editions and manuscripts of the works of Henry Lawson (1867-1922), the Australian short story writer and poet, compiled by the collector Harry Chaplin.

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  • Leaver Collection

    Harry Leaver Memorial Collection of Celtic Studies research material, compiled by Dr Harry Leaver and donated to the Rare Books and Special Collections Library. It includes some major journal runs. Leaver's original list of the contents of the collection is available.

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    Online catalogue

    (Some materials uncatalogued)

  • Lindsay Collection

    Printed editions and manuscripts of the work of the Lindsay Family, particularly Norman Lindsay (1879-1969), from the collection of Harry Chaplin.

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    Card catalogue
  • Macdonald Collection

    Private collection of Hugh Macdonald, the English scholar and bibliographer of Dryden, Hobbes and Locke. It contains 10,000 items and is the most important collection of sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth century English and European literature in Australia. It forms the basis of published bibliographies and of the Haslewood imprints series. It is one of the two or three most important collections of Dryden material in the world. The collection also has substantial holdings in romantic poetry, especially Byron, Shelley and Wordsworth, major twentieth century bibliographical works, eighteenth century French drama and seventeenth century English political history.

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    Card catalogue and online catalogue
  • Moore Collection

    Collection on the history of science, particularly physics and chemistry, donated by Emeritus Professor Walter Moore. It also contains some literary material.

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  • Phrenology Collection

    Formed collection of 101 titles on phrenology purchased in 1994 through the Edwards bequest.

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  • Richardson Collection

    Collection of Handel material, mainly reference works as well as some early printings and fragments of manuscripts. It was donated by Edward Richardson to complement the Dalley-Scarlett Collection, held by the Rare Books and Special Collections Library.

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    Card catalogue
  • Science Fiction and Fantasy Collection

    The Library’s collection is being added to continuously and is now one of the larger institutional collections of science fiction and fantasy in the world. It contains hardcovers and paperbacks, reference works, indexes, journals, fan material, art work, film posters and stills, manuscripts, memorabilia and a large collection of comics.

    Ron Graham Science Fiction Collection is a private collection assembled by Mr Graham for over 50 years before his death in 1979. Largely uncatalogued, Rare Books & Special Collections holds the original card index compiled by Ron Graham and a number of annotated indexes to anthologies and magazines. The collection includes a fanzine collection and a comic collection.

    A. Bertram Chandler collection. Chandler was a science fiction writer, most famous for his Rim Worlds and John Grimes novels. The bequest contains the bulk of his novels and short stories, a number of corrected typescripts, correspondence and a small collection of memorabilia.

    Colin Steele donated his significant private collection of science fiction, fantasy, horror books and periodicals to the University Library. A comprehensive collection which includes complete works of leading overseas and Australian authors, anthologies, early journals and fanzines.

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    Card catalogue and online catalogue

    Ron Graham Collection card index (PDF): ask at Rare Books & Special Collections

    Journals in the Ron Graham Collection

    Introduction to the Colin Steele collection

  • Slessor Collection

    Books from the private library of the Australian poet, author and journalist, Kenneth Slessor (1901-1971). The collection of over 800 titles was donated to the Rare Books and Special Collections Library by the Journalists' Club in 1996.

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  • Tomkeieff Collection

    Personal collection of research material on geology, petrology and geosciences, acquired from Professor Sergei Tomkeieff of the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1970. The collection is noteworthy for its historical material and Russian language material both of which are now virtually unobtainable.

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  • Three Decker Novel Collection

    Collection of 1597 titles of fiction published in more than one volume between 1800 and 1900 in their first English edition. Most titles were published in three volumes and are therefore known as "three decker novels". Most of the collection is formed by minor and lesser known authors, although some major authors are included such as Wilkie Collins, Benjamin Disraeli, George Eliot, Sir Walter Scott, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley and Anthony Trollope.

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