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University of London School of Advanced Study, Institute of Germanic Studies - Library

Address. 29 Russell Square, London WC1B 5DP [Map]
Telephone. (020) 7862-8965 and 8966 (administrative office); (020) 7862-8967 (Library)
Fax. (020) 7862-8970
e-mail. [igs@sas.ac.uk]
Internet. http://www.sas.ac.uk/igs/

Governing body or responsible institution. University of London School of Advanced Study
Function. University research institute.
Subjects. Materials relating to Germanic languages and literatures of all periods (excluding English), with particular emphasis on the German language and German, Austrian and Swiss literature.

Access. Reference library. Intending visitors wishing to consult early books, manuscripts or archives are advised to write to the Librarian in advance, stating their requirements.

 - Opening hours:
Monday to Friday 9.45 a.m. - 6 p.m., closed Saturday.
Special facilities. Microfilm/microfiche reader. Photocopy facilities. Computers may be used.
Printed information. Information booklet, including guide to classification scheme.
Travel directions. Nearest underground stations: Russell Square, and within easy walking distance, Euston, Euston Square, Goodge Street, Tottenham Court Road, and Holborn. On several bus routes. - Metered parking in the vicinity is in limited supply.


1.1 The Institute of Germanic Studies (initially called the Institute of Germanic Languages and Literatures) was established by the Senate of the University of London in 1950 on the initiative of L. A. Willoughby (1885-1977), Professor of German at University College London. At that time, given the complex structure of the University of London - it comprises a large number of multi-faculty colleges and specialist institutes scattered throughout the London area and beyond - there were clear advantages of pooling scarce resources in order to establish a focus for the advanced study of Germanic languages and literatures in the metropolis. The Institute primarily functions as a research facility for staff and postgraduate students of the University but is also recognised as a national resource for advanced work in the field. In 1994 the Institute became part of the newly established School of Advanced Study of the University of London.

1.2 The library, which is the University's principal resource for research in the field and the largest specialist library of its kind in the United Kingdom, focuses on German language and literature of all periods from the beginnings of literacy to the present day, other modern Germanic Languages (English, Dutch, and the Scandinavian languages) being separately catered for elsewhere in the University of London.

1.3 The purpose of the library is to provide basic material for research workers in all areas of German language and literature. The aim has been as far as possible to purchase reliable editions of primary literary texts of merit of all periods, as well as to provide standard histories of literature and monographs on linguistics and philology. Dictionaries and reference books form an important part of the collection; secondary material, other than in periodicals, Festschriften, and proceedings of conferences, is purchased selectively. There is a comprehensive collection of current journals of relevance to the discipline. Most of the books are available on open access.

1.4 The Library has been built up through regular purchases supplemented by exchanges and gifts. A source of particular importance has been donations and bequests of books given by British Germanists, some of the more substantial gifts coming from the libraries of E. M. Butler (1885-1959; 111 vols), Jethro Bithell (1878-1962; 2,000 vols), Edna Purdie (1894-1968; 500 vols), M. F. Liddell (1887-1968; 107 vols), M. O'C. Walshe (b. 1911; 700 vols); Leonard W. Forster (1913-1997; 300 vols); W. D. Robson-Scott (1901-1980; particularly writers of the period 1910-1930); Mary Beare (1897-1985; a collection strong in material relating to 16th-century German literature); and August Closs (1898-1990). The bequest from Ida Herz (1895-1984, former librarian of Thomas Mann; c. 400 vols of Manniana) deserves special mention, as do the gifts of 65 political pamphlets from 1848 from the library of K. Spalding and 500 vols on Expressionism and on German-speaking exile writers from the collection of J. M. Ritchie. Institutional donors have also been important for the acquisition of new books.

1.5 The Institute's principal collection of early books is the Priebsch-Closs Collection, the nucleus of which was acquired in 1950 from Professor and Mrs August Closs. Hannah Closs (1905-1953) was the daughter of Robert Priebsch (1866-1935), who had been Professor of German at University College London from 1898 to 1931 and who had carefully built up a substantial collection of rare books and manuscripts over the years. August Closs, Professor of German at the University of Bristol, had added to it regularly, though it is seldom possible to say which items were acquired by Priebsch and which by Closs. The original collection as it came to the Institute comprised numerous first and early editions of German Classical and Romantic writers, with many rare editions of lesser known figures of these periods. A special feature is the large number of translations from the German illustrating the impact of German thought on English letters in the 18th and the first half of the 19th centuries. In 1967 a further 108 17th-century books were acquired from Closs and added to the collection. Following the death of August Closs in 1990 the Institute was chosen to receive his working library as well as his papers. Though the library consisted largely of 20th-century publications it also harboured many unexpected treasures of earlier periods, including several medieval and post-medieval manuscripts (among them two of Heinrich Seuse's Buch der Ewigen Weisheit and some 17th-century witch-trial reports) and 13 incunabula.

1.6 Other early books were acquired from the library of Friedrich Gundolf (1880-1931) whose papers are held in the Institute's Gundolf Archive and from whose estate the Institute acquired some 1,500 books in 1959. These include early German translations of the Chronicon Urspergensis (by Caspar Hedio, 1539), Vitruvius (1575), and Petrarch's De rebus memorandis (1566).


2.1 The library's current holdings (April 1998) number 87,393 books, pamphlets and periodicals. Overall it is estimated that 90 per cent of the stock is in German. The collection is supplemented with a set of Bibliothek der deutschen Literatur (Munich 1990-1994) which reproduces on 19,963 microfiches full texts of 15,000 titles published since 1650 by 2,500 authors.

2.2 The library has especially strong collections in the following areas: Reference books: all available bibliographies on all aspects of German language and literature; word indexes; biographical dictionaries; directories of libraries and archives; catalogues and union lists of periodicals. - Language: German and German-English dictionaries from the 16th century onwards; 19th and 20th-century material on orthographical reform. - Dialects: all known currently produced dictionaries of German dialects, as well as a large collection of earlier dictionaries. Festschriften: a comprehensive collection of Festschriften wholly or mainly consisting of articles on German language and literature. - Classicism: the Priebsch-Closs collection (see above 1.5); the library of the English Goethe Society (founded 1886; c. 400 vols) is placed on permanent loan at the Institute. - Literary contacts between Germany and Britain, especially material relating to the reception of Shakespeare in Germany. Stefan George and the George circle. - Thomas Mann and the Mann family. - German literature since 1945. - Theses on German language and literature (mostly University of London but also some accepted by other British universities). The Institute also has important holdings in other areas of 20th-century literature, for example, Expressionism, exile writers, and contemporary Swiss literature.

Chronological outline and analysis by language

2.3 Fully comprehensive figures for the pre-1900 holdings are not available. There are estimated to be c. 3,000 pre-1800 and c. 15,000 19th-century vols. Additions are still occasionally made to them, by gift or purchase. The total includes 2,390 vols in the Priebsch-Closs Collection which comprises printed books of the 15th to 19th centuries. At least 95 per cent of the pre-1900 holdings are in German, the remainder being in English, Latin, Dutch, and French.

2.4 Of the 13 incunabula (11 of which are in Latin) acquired through the Closs bequest in 1990 one, an Augsburg calendar printed by Johann Bämler in 1492, is unique; of the remainder, 8 were printed in Cologne, Heidelberg, Nuremberg and Strasbourg, while the others come from Italy (Florence, Milan, and Rome).

2.5 The Institute also possesses many other early items, including about ten 17th-century books and 350 18th-century items which are not part of the Priebsch-Closs Collection but which are mostly shelved with it. Though the total number of 16th-century books in the collection is small (c. 30) approximately three-quarters of them are not available in the British Library.

Subject outline

2.6 The main focus of the Institute's collections is on language and literature; books in other fields are held only selectively. Thus among the 17th- and early 18th-century volumes are about 40 rather miscellaneous items which may be classified as topographical and historical works, many of them concerning Germany - such as F. Blondel's Außführliche Erklärung und augenscheinliche Wunderwirckung deren heylsamen Badt- und Trinckwässern zu Aach (1688) and Das edle Fluss-Perle, oder der Gold-trächtig und fürtreffliche Ströme-Printz, der Rhein (1689), J. F. Mayer's Evangelisches Hamburg (1694), and J. C. Kolb's Das frolockende Augspurg (1716) - while others are important early German works on Britain, such as H. L. Benthem's Engländischer Kirchen- und Schulen-Staat (1694). Rare travel books include the anonymous Kurtze Beschreibung der Insel und Reichs Creta oder Candia (Nuremberg 1669), Des berühmten englischen Theologi Gilberti Burnets ...durch die Schweitz, Italien, auch einige Orte Deutschlands ...gethaner Reise ...curieuse Beschreibung (Leipzig 1687) and C. Freschot's Des Königreichs Dalmatien historische und geographische Vorstellung (Leipzig 1688).

2.7 One of the initial aims of the library was to focus on books dealing with Anglo-German literary relations and particularly the reception of Shakespeare in Germany. The Institute has a range of German translations of Shakespeare, including the first edition of Schiller's translation of Macbeth (Tübingen 1801) as well as a very scarce Mannheim reprint of the same year. Other items include a number of early English translations of Schiller, including Kabale und Liebe (1795), Fiesko (1796), and Maria Stuart (1801). In 1966 Prof. W. Walker Chambers presented 16 different early translations of Goethe's Werther, which augment the 15 English, French, Spanish and Italian translations already present in the Priebsch-Closs Collection. The Institute has several early English translations of plays by Kotzebue.

2.8 There are c. 70 other miscellaneous early translations into German, from Aesop, Homer, Livy, Ovid, Tacitus, Virgil, and Vitruvius among the classics; from Bassi, Boccaccio, Menochio, Petrarch, and Tasso among the Italians; from Barclay, Defoe, Fielding, Milton, Richardson, Sir Philip Sidney, Steele, Sterne, Swift and others among the English; as well as a few items from French (notably 18th and early 19th-century translations of plays by Diderot) and Spanish. 18th-century English dramatists represented by German translations include Centlivre, Cibber, Coffey, Colman, Congreve, Cumberland, Farquhar, Foote, Garrick, Goldsmith, Mason and Moore. French dramatists similarly represented include Beaumarchais, Bouilly, Corneille, Dorvigny, Grafigny, Marivaux, Molière, Racine, J. B. Rousseau, and Voltaire.

2.9 Some 150 authors of the 16th, 17th and early 18th centuries are represented in the collections, though in most cases by a single book. Authors of whom the Institute has several items include Abraham a Sancta Clara, Aegidius Albertinus, Jacob Balde, Franz Gallenbach, Friedrich von Canitz, David Fassmann, Hans Jacob Christoffel von Grimmelshausen, Johann Christian Günther, Christian Hofmann von Hoffmannswaldau, Daniel Casper von Lohenstein, Heinrich Kornmann, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, Ambrosius Lobwasser, Luther, Johann Michael Moscherosch, Martin Opitz, Benjamin Schmolck (1672-1737; 9 vols), Johann Balthasar Schupp, Christian Weise, Philipp von Zesen, and Julius Wilhelm Zincgref. There are also a number of items by or about Melanchthon.

2.10 The Institute's late 18th and 19th-century holdings include many first and early editions of the German Classics and Romantics, belonging to the Priebsch-Closs Collection. There are many early editions of medieval German texts (by Friedrich Heinrich von der Hagen, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, Karl Lachmann and others), collected by Robert Priebsch. Heinrich Heine is well represented, not least by an early edition published in America. Otherwise 19th-century authors are mostly represented by the standard editions of the period.

2.11 Among the Institute's extensive holdings of reference books are original editions of Draud's Bibliotheca exotica (1610), Walch's Philosophisches Lexicon (1733), Zedler's Universallexikon (1733-1751), Ersch and Gruber's Allgemeine Encyklopädie der Wissenschaften (1818-1889), and the Deutsches Wörterbuch of the Brothers Grimm. Dictionaries and grammars, especially of German dialects, are one of the library's chief focuses of attention. The work of J. C. Adelung, K. F. Becker, J. H. Campe, S. Franck, J. Frisius, J. C. Dähnert, J. C. Gottsched, Jacob Grimm, F. Junius, C. Ludwig, M. Richey, J. G. Scherz, J. A. Schmeller, J. G. Schottelius, J. G. Seybold, K. Stieler, and others has long been well represented by original editions, and a 1626 edition of P. Dasypodius's Dictionarium Latino-Germanicum has recently been acquired.

2.12 There are relatively few early periodicals in the collection, but holdings do include the Journal de Hambourg (1694), Monatliche Unterredungen (1696-1698), The High German Doctor (1719), Der Patriot (1728-1729), Briefe, die neueste Litteratur betreffend (1759-1765), Deutsche Monatsschrift (1790-93), Thalia (1785-1791), Die Horen (1795-1797), and Schlegel's Deutsches Museum (1812-1813). Another rare item is the Würtzburger Hochfürstlicher wohl elaborierter Hof-Calender (1723), but pride of place must be accorded to the collection of more than 150 vols of mostly early 19th-century literary almanacs and Taschenbücher.


3.1 General catalogues

Card catalogue:

Author catalogue

Classified catalogue

[Based on the obsolete Garside system, formerly used in several libraries in the University. The card catalogue may still be consulted with the permission of the Librarian.]

Microfiche catalogue

[Pre-1991 accessions, prepared from the original card catalogue. Includes entries for individual articles in the Institute's substantial holdings of periodicals and Festschriften. There is fairly comprehensive coverage of articles published between 1965 and about 1990. Sets of the microfiche catalogue are available for purchase.]


Since 1991 accessions have been entered on the online catalogue which is accessible through the international networks. Virtually all the Institute's holdings of printed books are accessible via the online catalogue (via Internet http://www.sas.ac.uk/ or via Telnet 193.6218.239).

Consortium of University Research Libraries (CURL) [The institute is a member of CURL, and its library holdings are being added to the COPAC union catalogue: http://copac.ac.uk/copac/.]

The incunables are recorded in the Incunabula Short Title Catalogue (ISTC).

3.2 Special catalogues

There is as yet no printed special catalogue of the early holdings.

Priebsch-Closs Collection [separate card-index]


4.1 Archival sources

Accessions registers; minutes of the Committee of Management of the Institute [restricted access]; minutes of the University of London Board of Studies in Germanic Languages and Literatures [held in the University of London Library, Senate House, London WC1]

The Institute's ``History of German Studies in Great Britain' archive [restricted access] also contains material relating to the growth of the library.

Annual Reports of the Institute [since 1950]

4.2 Publications

Closs, August (ed.): Robert Priebsch - Elias von Steinmeyer. Briefwechsel. Berlin 1979 [contains various selected references to Priebsch's book collecting]

Abbey, Bill: Institute of Germanic Studies, University of London. In: David Paisey (ed.): German studies: British resources. Papers presented at a colloquium at the British Library, 25-27 September 1985. London 1986, pp. 160-162 (British Library Occasional Papers 8)

Flood, John L.: The Institute of Germanic Studies and its library. A brief account of their origin and their first forty years. With an appendix: The incunabula in the Priebsch-Closs Collection of the University of London Institute of Germanic Studies. In: London German Studies 4, ed. by R. A. Wisbey. London 1992, pp. 269-283 (Publications of the Institute of Germanic Studies 52)


For incunabula, see also 4.2 Flood.

Flood, John L.: Ein Almanach auf das Jahr 1492 mit einer Übersicht über die Augsburger Kalenderproduktion des 15. Jahrhunderts. In: Gutenberg-Jahrbuch 1992, pp. 62-71 15. Jahrhunderts. In: Gutenberg-Jahrbuch 1992, pp. 62-71

See also: A directory of rare book and special collections ... 2nd ed. London 1997, pp. 253-254

April 1998

John L. Flood

Quelle: Handbuch der historischen Buchbestände in Deutschland. Digitalisiert von Günter Kükenshöner.
Hrsg. von Bernhard Fabian. Hildesheim: Olms Neue Medien 2003.