Special and Named Printed Collections in the National Library of Scotland
A selection of 2,762 volumes of printed books and pamphlets, and 25 manuscript volumes, from what remained of the Earl of Rosebery’s library at The Durdans, Epsom, after the 1933 Sotheby’s sale. The books were received by the Library in 1956 by the bequest of Lady Sybil Grant (1903-55), eldest daughter of the 5th Earl (1847-1929 - see Rosebery Collection). The collection reflects the general country house character of the library at The Durdans and the Earl’s personal interests, its main strengths being historical memoirs and pamphlets on British and European history of the 18th and the 19th century, particularly the lives and times of Pitt and Napoleon; French and English literature, including an uncensored copy of the first edition of Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du Mal (Paris, 1857) with the six condemned poems later extracted from unsold copies; English topography, in particular Epsom and Surrey; privately printed volumes of memoirs and poetry; dictionaries of slang, cant, and proverbs; religious works including material relating to Cardinal Newman. However, the collection is perhaps richest in works on all aspects of horse-racing and breeding and field sports in general, ranging from early lists of horse-races and manuals of horsemanship and veterinary science, to long runs of sporting journals, including a complete run of The Sporting Magazine (London, 1792-1870). The collection includes a number of fine bindings and contains many books from the Beckford library, some with annotations both by Beckford and the Earl of Rosebery.
The manuscripts are described and indexed in Vol. VIII of the Library’s Catalogue of Manuscripts.