Special and Named Printed Collections


A selection of 491 volumes of 19th- and 20th-century editions of classical Greek texts and works relating mainly to classical philology, with a number of volumes in modern Greek, from the library of Professor A.J. Beattie (1914-1996), former Professor of Greek at the University of Edinburgh. This collection, which reflects the donor's special interest in Linear B script and early Greek authors, was presented in 1981.

Shelf: Bea.


A selection of books bought in 1934 from the library at Abbotsford, the collection consists of 106 volumes and 276 pamphlets consisting mainly of literature, 17th- and 18th-century plays and early 19th-century volumes of poetry. There are also works on history, biography, sale catalogues, and some works on witchcraft. The pamphlets cover a wide range of subject matter, and, although mainly London and Edinburgh imprints, they do include a number of continental printings. A number of the books were bound for Sir Walter Scott in brown russia with his badge of a portcullis and his motto in gold at the head of the spine. Notable items include two volumes of 18th-century Spanish and Italian chapbooks collected by John Gibson Lockhart (1794-1854), Scott's son-in-law; Sir Walter Scott's Journal, 9 February 1826-13 April 1831, one of the copies printed for Lockhart in preparation for his Life of Scott; and the second volume of an edition of Shakespeare begun by Scott and Lockhart in 1822-23, but abandoned after three volumes were printed. Letters and papers of Sir Walter Scott and John Gibson Lockhart, were also purchased from Abbotsford, in 1931-32 and 1934-35.

The manuscripts (NLS MSS 851-938) are described and indexed in Vol. I of the Library's Catalogue of Manuscripts.

Shelf: Abbot.


Books from the library of Adam Urquhart (1794-1860), Advocate and Sheriff of Wigtown, presented to the Advocates Library by his daughter in 1913. They comprise 160 volumes of Italian, French and English works, from the 17th to the 19th century.

Shelf: Urq.


A collection of 110 wood engraved blocks and tools from the studio of the Scottish wood engraver Agnes Miller Parker (1895-1980), deposited by her niece Mrs Anne D. Quickenden in 1981. The blocks were used in the following published works: 'Elegy in a country churchyard', 'Tess of the d'Urbervilles', 'Forest giant', 'Animals under the rainbow' and 'Poems of William Shakespeare'. There are also blocks for Christmas card illustrations and miscellaneous prints. The surviving letters, sketch-books and a large quantity of prints were deposited at the same time, and are held by the Archives & Manuscripts Division. A number of the blocks were also printed for the Fleece Press book on Agnes Miller Parker with text by Ian Rogerson and John Dreyfus.

Collection-level record only, an inventory of the blocks is available on request; inventory of the manuscripts (NLS Acc.11238). I. Rogerson, Agnes Miller Parker Wood Engraver and Book Illustrator 1895-1980, Wakefield, 1990.

Shelf: Park.


This collection of the works of Hugh MacDiarmid was formed by William Russell Aitken (1913-1998), former Reader in Librarianship at Strathclyde University, and a lifelong friend of the poet. He was also MacDiarmid's editor and literary agent. Aitken produced a comprehensive bibliography of the works of MacDiarmid, and edited, with Michael Grieve, the "Complete Poems", published in 1978. MacDiarmid, whose real name was Christopher Murray Grieve, fought to revive Scots as a vigorous literary language, and in doing so became the foremost Scottish poet of the twentieth century. His major works such as "A drunk man looks at the thistle" have international importance in modern literature. The Aitken Collection contains some 125 items, particularly editions of MacDiarmid's poetry, many of them in their original dustjackets and inscribed by the poet to his friend. There is also a rare collection of photographs of the poet taken by Aitken, and a quantity of rare MacDiarmid ephemera, including posters, political manifestos and cards. Most of the books have been annotated by Aitken; he corrects mistakes and provides notes relating to the publication history of individual poems. Along with Aitken's manuscript collection, donated at the same time, this represents one of the fullest and most interesting sources for the study of MacDiarmid.

A complete list of the Aitken Collection (PDF: 8 pages) is available.

Shelf: Aitken.


A collection of c. 120 items by and relating to the author and occultist Aleister Crowley (1875-1947), acquired by the Library through purchase and legal deposit and brought together into one collection. The collection includes a run of the journal "Equinox" and published by Crowley while based in Boleskine house near Inverness.

Shelf: Crowley.


A collection of 37 volumes relating to the research and the publications of Dr Alexander Law (1903-1995) OBE, former HM Inspector of Schools. The collection contains works by Allan Ramsay, Robert Fergusson and on the history of education in Scotland. The works date from the 17th to the 19th century and were presented by Dr Law in 1992. The literary papers of Dr Law were presented to the Library in 1996.

Inventory of the manuscripts (Acc. 11490).

Shelf: ALW.


This is a collection of 84 books and 23 black and white photographs relating to Sri Lanka (previously Ceylon) collected by Alexander Mackie, a Scottish tea-planter in Sri Lanka between 1956 and 1971. The books were published between 1900 and 1975 and were primarily assembled during the years that Mr. Mackie lived in Ceylon. Under an existing agreement, his widow, Mrs. Catherine Mackie, presented the collection to the library in 2000. The materials cover a wide range of subjects: the development and maintenance of tea plantations and also the political, natural, recreational and social history of Sri Lanka. The collection is an especially valuable resource for information on the development of coffee and tea plantations on the island, aspects of the period of colonialism, and the subsequent nationalisation of plantations in the early 1970s.

A complete list of all the materials in the Alexander Mackie Collection (PDF: 7 pages) is also available. The photographs have been transferred to the Manuscripts Division and can be accessed through either the printed or online inventory at Acc.11913.

Shelf: Mackie.


A collection of 425 volumes, purchased in 1944 from the library of Ernest Lionel Allhusen (1875-1943) of Edinburgh. The books reflect his interests in 19th- and 20th-century French literature and fine art. There are also 16 pre-1801 books.

Shelf: Aln.


This collection comprises 379 volumes from the library of James Erskine of Alva, Lord Barjarg (1732-96), many of them belonging to his father, Charles Erskine, Lord Tinwald (1680-1763), Lord Justice Clerk, and containing his bookplate. Most of the books in the collection are law books of the 16th and the 17th century, and are predominantly continental imprints. The collection was presented to the National Library in 1927 by the Trustees of Dollar Academy.

Shelf: Alva.


A group of 64 works in 60 volumes by Annie S. Swan (Mrs Burdett-Smith) (1859-1943), specially bound for the author. There is also a collection of correspondence, manuscripts, typescripts and other papers. The collection was presented in 1973 by the Rev. and Mrs E.M. Rule of Oyne, Aberdeenshire.

Inventories of the manuscripts (Acc.6003 & Acc.6469)

Shelf: Swn.


One of the most notable acquisitions made by the Advocates Library, this collection of 3,617 volumes was formerly part of the library of the Marqueses de Astorga. The famous book collector Richard Heber (1773-1833) had been given first choice from the collection, but the rest of it was purchased by the Faculty in 1826 for 3,000 pounds from the London bookseller Thomas Thorpe. The Faculty was acting on the advice of the Hispanist, John Gibson Lockhart (see Abbotsford Collection), who may have been informed of the collection through Heber's friendship with his father-in-law, Sir Walter Scott. As a result the Advocates gained, against competition from the Bodleian Library, one of the leading collections of early Spanish books in Britain at that time. Although it is not the complete Astorga library, the collection as it stands has a remarkable variety of subject matter, and extends from the 15th century (11 incunables) to the early 19th century. It is strong not only in the traditional subjects of law, theology and history, but also in mathematics, geography and travel, and the practical arts and sciences. There is, however, an absence of Spanish 'Golden Age' literature, with few works by Calderon and Cervantes, which may be due to Heber having acquired such items beforehand. The collection admirably displays the high and low points of Spanish printing and book production, from the distinctive and handsome books of the 15th and beginning of the 16th century, through the doldrums of the 17th and the early 18th century, to the revival of standards from 1750 onwards, outstandingly represented by Ibarra's Sallust (1772), one of the finest volumes produced in any country during the 18th century.

J.H. Loudon, 'The Astorga Collection of Spanish books now in the National Library of Scotland', in III Congreso Internacional de Bibliofilia, Barcelona, 1971, 89-93.

More about the Astorga Collection

Shelf: G.


The Auld collection of books in and about Esperanto contains nearly 5000 monographs and a comparable number of serials; manuscript items have been transferred to Manuscript Collections. This is the working library of the late William Auld (1924-2006), one of the world's leading writers in Esperanto, who was also Scottish and was nominated three times for the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1999, 2004 and 2006. Donated to the Library in 2000, his collection is an internationally significant resource for Esperanto studies. Esperanto is the language created by L L Zamenhof in the 1880s, which is now used by communities across the world as a neutral means of communication. The collection contains books printed in countries as diverse as Japan, Latvia, Albania and Vietnam. There are some extremely rare examples of early publications in Esperanto, starting from 1887. However, there are also modern publications, including scientific books, children's books and literary translations, which show that the language continues to develop. There are Esperanto translations of works by writers such as Robert Louis Stevenson, Walter Scott and Robert Burns, as well as original Esperanto fiction and poetry by Scottish writers including William Auld himself. A number of the books have provenance of other Scottish Esperanto libraries such as the Edinburgh Esperanto Society.

The collection is awaiting cataloguing. As an interim measure, monographs can be ordered for use in the Special Collections Reading Room by using a list of the Auld collection books in subject order.

More about the Auld Esperanto Collection

Shelf: Auld


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