Search within:

Edmund Blunden Collection

Signature of Edmund Blunden
Edmund Blunden’s signature, one of many found in his books, this one in Memoirs of the Late Mrs. Robinson, London, 1801

The Edmund Blunden Collection contains about 10,000 volumes. The acquisition of the collection is well documented through correspondence with Claire Blunden, Edmund Blunden's third wife, in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Bernie Fieler, former Ohio University Bibliographer and Chair of the Library Committee 1979-1981, travelled to England in 1975 to examine Blunden's library and begin negotiations with Claire Blunden to bring the collection to the Mahn Center.

Blunden’s library well represents literature from the late 18th century and early 19th century, a period of particular interest to the rare book collection at the time. In an 1981 letter to Gary A. Hunt, former Department Head of Alden Library's Archives and Special Collections, Claire Blunden expressed joy about the collection having a new home: "I was pleased to find that any reluctance I had to part with [Edmund's books] was quite overcome by the strong sense that they did belong together and were going to be housed properly for the first time for many years under Edmund's name." 

Edmund Blunden actively collected for decades, searching for books at Faringdon Road book stalls in London and small antiquarian bookshops throughout England, and beyond. He was patient, keen on collecting affordable books based on his personal interests, and did not get caught up in trends, perfect copies, or high monetary value.

Select items from the Blunden Collection have been partially or fully digitized and are available in our Digital Archives.

Authors & Topics

Blunden collected books by authors like Chaucer, Shakespeare, Dryden, Addison, Pope, and Swift who in turn influenced writers of 1750-1850, including many women authors. He also collected books significant to the development of the ideas, tastes, and quality of life of 18th and 19th century Britain, such as cricket. The collection is also strong in 20th-century writers, especially World War I veterans and authors with whom Blunden maintained a close network, including Robert Bridges, Walter de la Mare, Ralph Hodgson, John Masefield, Siegfried Sassoon, and H.M. Tomlinson.

You may find materials relevant to your interests based on the following topics, among others, represented in Blunden's collection:

  • 18th-early 20th century English Literature
  • Periodicals
  • Natural History
  • World War I
  • Cricket
  • Christ's Hospital
  • Dictionaries
  • Art
  • Translations
  • Maps and travel

Manuscript material includes:

  • Letters from 20th century authors
  • Holographs of Blunden's poems which he composed or copied in his books
  • 37 albums, script books, and diaries

Blunden’s Own Writing

Blunden was an avid writer himself, pursuing poetry, critique, biography, memoir, novel, travel writing, and nonfiction genres. The collection represents much of his work, including Undertones of War (1928), volumes of poetry The Shepherd (1922), Shells by a Stream (1944), and Poems of Many Years (1957). The Bonadventure (1927) is his best-known travel literature, marking his adventures in South America.

Exploring Blunden's books, you may encounter some of his own annotations which mark the unique value of titles from his collection. 

  • Handwritten inscription by Edmund Blunden on the endpaper of a book
    <a href="">Handwritten original poem</a> signed with Blunden’s initials and dated Lille, 1931 in <em>The Remains of Henry Kirke White of Nottingham,</em> 1825
  • The inscription reads:

    On our march to the battle of the Somme in 1916 I left behind at a farmhouse where I stayed one night a copy of this edition; and it has taken me 15 years to replace that copy. Yet, whereas I paid 6d. for that book in 1915, I got this one for 3d. in a time of elevated prices.

    This edition is a useful one, for it contains not only the usual "works" of K. White but the supplementary issued by Southey in 1822 & scarce. Some of these are superior to any of the first pieces collected.

    Lille, 1931

    EB [Edmund Blunden]

    This inscription connects with Blunden's experiences in World War I. Although brief, it shares a remarkable memory of reuniting with a text that Blunden remembered from the greatest hardships of the war.

For more information:

Authors, titles, and series in the collection can be viewed more extensively through a search on Edmund Blunden Collection in the ALICE library catalog. More specific information may be obtained by using "limit this search" for particular authors, dates of publication (e.g., after 1899 and before 1911), or publishers.

Page created by Alexis Voisard, MA student in English, 2022-23 Rare Books Graduate Assistant