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Italian Studies: Special Collections


Italian MS 1

The Library’s Special Collections provide a rich resource for Italian Studies at the University of Manchester.

Our collections cover areas including Italian cultural and literary studies, history, visual studies, linguistics, translation, and the history of the book.

This guide identifies collection strengths to help you access the most relevant material for your studies

Collection strengths

The Library’s Special Collections in the field of Italian Studies are of international significance and map directly to most areas of current teaching and research activity.

Our holdings of books printed in Italy from the fifteenth century onwards are extremely strong. The most important of these is the Dante Collection, including all but one of the fifteenth century editions of the Divina Commedia, and many of the subsequent major editions, including the first Roman edition with Lombardi’s commentary of 1791. Six early editions have been digitised and are available on-line. The collection of original editions is supported by numerous commentaries.

Other significant authors are Ariosto, Sannazaro, Boccaccio, Guarini, Machiavelli and Petrarch. We also have particular strengths in the outputs of a number of Italian printers, including Aldus Manutius and his descendents, the Giunti family and Gabriel Giolito de Ferrari. There is also significant material relating to the Italian language, including early dictionaries and texts recording regional language differences and dialects.

The archive and manuscript collections hold exceptionally rich material for researchers. Italian manuscripts date from the 14th to the 19th century with particular strengths in literature, genealogy, music and history. We also have documents concerning Florence, Venice, Bologna and other cities, and records relating to the Medici, Strozzi and Orsini families.

For twentieth-century Italian studies we offer unique research opportunities via the Carcanet Press Archive, which contains correspondence, literary manuscripts and proofs relating to works in translation published by the press or in the PN Review magazine, and the Walter Strachan Papers. The Guardian Archive contains a large collection of despatches from foreign and war correspondents which provide first-hand reports of all the major events of the 20th century.

What are Special Collections?

picture of a Chaucer manuscript and an iPad image of the same manuscript

What are Special Collections?

The University of Manchester Library holds one of the finest collections of rare books, manuscripts, archives and visual collections in the world. These collections are mainly concentrated in the magnificent building on Deansgate, The John Rylands Research Institute and Library, in the centre of Manchester. They are also housed in the Main Library on the University campus and at the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah RACE Centre, in Manchester Central Library. This resource introduces the different types of materials found in Special Collections and explains how they can be used to support your studies. For general tips on accessing digital and physical collections and visiting our reading room please look at our other Medium resources.

Using Special Collections

You are welcome to make use of Special Collections in your learning and research.

Due to the special nature of the material, we provide access in a controlled environment and there are some restrictions on use and access, particularly for fragile material or modern archives which may contain sensitive data.

Please read our guidance pages on the web for details.


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