Since its foundation in 1734, Göttingen State and University Library has been collecting books and other materials from and relating to Great Britain and Ireland. Georg August, Duke of Hanover, the founder of Göttingen University, also ruled Great Britain in personal union as King George II. This close connection between the two countries has laid the foundation of one of the largest collections of English books on the continent, as the library established business relationships with booksellers in London and other cities abroad. One of the principal research libraries of the Enlightenment, Göttingen Library acquired a large variety of documents relating to the expansion of the British empire as well as literary texts of the 17th and 18th century. Over the years, the library was able to further extend its important and wide-ranging collection which encompasses historical and contemporary primary sources as well as scholarly publications on English, Scottish, Welsh and Irish history, culture, literature, folklore, politics and geography. The collection features books, journals, maps and mircroforms as well as digitized copies of historical documents.
Among its collection of English manuscripts and incunables are several copies of works by the printer William Caxton (such as the Dicta Philosophorum) who brought the printing press to England.The library’s historical collection has been continually supplemented by items bought at national and international auctions, among them first and rare editions, such as an edition of the Kelmscott Chaucer (1896), published by William Morris's Kelmscott Press and illustrated by the Pre-Raphaelite artist Edward Burne-Jones, a signed edition of Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891) and a first edition of James Joyce's Ulysses (1922).
After World War II, SUB Göttingen was tasked by the German Research Foundation (DFG) to collect primary sources and scholarly literature pertaining to Great Britain and Ireland as part of its Special Subject Collections Programme. This resulted in a substantial collection of contemporary German and international research literature comprised of both books and journals. The collection of primary literature contains editions of historical sources (both in print and on microform) as well as editions of literary texts representative of a large variety of genres: Volumes of contemporary poetry, contemporary novels, crime fiction, anthologies of short stories, regional and non-fiction writing as well as literary magazines.
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