Special and Named Printed Collections in the National Library of Scotland


This collection is a memorial to the bibliophile Hugh Sharp (1897-1937), a wealthy jute manufacturer in Dundee, who died in a railway accident. His private library, collected in the last eight years of his life, was presented in 1938 by his mother and sister. It comprises over 1,200 volumes, mostly first editions of the classics of English and American literature, and is notable for the very fine condition of the works acquired, many in original state. One of the earliest books in the collection is the first complete edition of the works of Chaucer (1532), from the library of Lord Hastings, and one of the latest, the first edition of Gone with the Wind (1936). There is a copy of the first edition of Milton’s Paradise Lost (1667) with the first state of the title-page; the copy of Milton’s Poems (1645) which belonged to Lewis Stucley, chaplain to Cromwell; and the Huth-Rosebery copy of the first issue of the Authorized Version of the Bible (1611). English novels and plays of the 18th century are strongly represented, as are the major works of 19th-century English literature. Notable items include a copy of the suppressed first edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865), withdrawn by Lewis Carroll because of the poor printing of Tenniel’s illustrations, and the first edition of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice (1813) in original boards. Among a number of works with literary and historical associations is the copy of The Lay of the Last Minstrel (1805), Scott’s first original work, presented by the author to Dorothy Wordsworth, and later gifted by William Wordsworth to his niece Dora. Besides the first published edition of Edward Lear’s A Book of Nonsense (1846), the collection also has a privately printed edition which may precede it. The works of the major American writers of the 19th century are present, as well as earlier works of travel and exploration in America. Amongst the Americana is George Washington’s Official Letters to the Honorable American Congress, 2 vol. (London, 1795), with the author’s signature on both title-pages, and three pages of manuscript notes by the editor John Carey explaining his editorial methods.

‘Memorial gift to National Library’, The Scotsman, 11 February 1938. Short-Title Catalogue of the Hugh Sharp Collection, Edinburgh, 1954. H.S.1243-4 is a catalogue of the collection compiled by Hugh Sharp himself, and containing notes about many of the works. Inscriptions, letters and papers inserted in the printed books are described and indexed in Vol. II of the Library’s Catalogue of Manuscripts. H.F.B. Sharp, Books of American and Canadian Interest, 1613-1932, Privately Printed, [1932?].

Shelfmark: H.S.

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