Durning-Lawrence Library

The collection

Described as ‘Baconian’ by its main collector, the collection comprises about 5,000 titles from the fifteenth to the twenty-first century by or in some way perceived as relating to Sir Francis Bacon. Particular strengths are titles by Sir Francis Bacon, works on the Bacon-Shakespeare authorship controversy, Shakespearean sources, and first editions of the works of Daniel Defoe. The collection also holds early emblem books, early editions of Elizabethan and Jacobean literature generally (including all four Shakespeare folios), Jacobean and Caroline quarto plays, seventeenth-century Rosicrucian books, and history of the Elizabethan period.

The collector

Based on the library of Sir Edwin Durning-Lawrence (1837-1914), protagonist in the Bacon-Shakespeare authorship controversy (see Alexander Gordon, Family History of the Lawrences of Cornwall, [1915]). Lady Durning-Lawrence acquired a few books after her husband’s death.

Acquisition

Bequeathed by Edith Jane, Lady Durning-Lawrence, in 1929. Senate House Library has supplemented the collection with more recent works about the authorship controversy.

Access

Catalogued online 2001/02. For an overview of the library, do a mixed classmark search on [D.-L.L.]. This will bring up items in classified order. An author search on “Durning Lawrence, Edwin ” as former owner will isolate items owned by him.

Related archives

Report of the Library Committee for 1931 (description of the collection; UL/1/1/4); Durning-Lawrence Archive (preface: DLL); MSS285-320 (manuscripts from Durning-Lawrence’s library).

Select publications

Attar, K.E., ‘Sir Edwin Durning-Lawrence: a Baconian and his Books’, The Library, 5th Ser. 3 (2004), 294-315

Attar, K.E., ‘From Private to Public: the Durning-Lawrence Library at the University of London’, Private Library, 5th ser. 10 (2007), 137–56.