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Rare Books

Firestone Library
One Washington Road
Princeton, NJ 08540
609-258-3184
Acting Associate University Librarian for Rare Books and Special Collections
609-258-3165

The Library has "one of the great Blake collections in the United States." It is described by Gerald E. Bentley Jr. in the Princeton University Library Chronicle XXXV, 3 (Spring, 1974) p. 324 [ full text] . Also consult under Princeton the index to G. Bentley's Blake Books (Oxford, 1977) [(Ex) Z8103.B4.1977].

The collection is based on the gift of Mrs. Gerard B. Lambert of Princeton in 1960 and was augmented by the bequest of Caroline Newton in 1974. Mrs. Lambert was the wife of an alumnus, class of 1908, and a resident of Princeton. Charles Ryskamp, in his published memoir of American women book collectors, tells the circumstances of Mrs. Lambert's gift. He began teaching in the English Department at Princeton in 1955, including Blake in his instruction. "...[S]he ... suddenly gave [the collection] to Princeton University when she learned that students there had no original work of Blake to enjoy and to study." ( The Ladies, God Bless Them: Recollections of American Women Book Collectors [New York: The Grolier Club, 2007], p. 12). Caroline Newton was the daughter of the famous early 20th century American book collector, A. Edward Newton. A portion of her Blake gifts were formerly owned by her father.

As stated by Bentley in Blake Books, the Library has:

1. Illuminated works:

 

America, A Prophecy (1793) - two of sixteen copies [(Ex) 3631.3.312q c.1 and 2]; Visions of the Daughters of Albion (1793) - one of 17 copies [(Ex) 3631.3.393q]; For the Sexes (copy J); Songs of Innocence and of Experience (copies U,g1,j); Urizen pl. 9; Marriage of Heaven and Hell pl 11.

 

2. Type-printed works:

 

Poetical sketches London, 1783. (Bentley copy I) [(Ex) 3631.3.372 1783].

 

3. Others:

 

a. Hayley's broadside ballad entitled Little Tom the Sailor with two designs by Blake (October 8, 1800) - very rare; [(Ex) 3776.3.359q].

 

b. Designs to a Series of Ballads, Written by William Hayley, Esq. (1802) 1st edition. Six copperplates by Blake. [(Ex) 3776.3.314.11]

c. Illustrations of the Book of Job. (1826). [(Ex) Oversize 3631.3.347.12f].

 

For particulars refer to: Charles Ryskamp, "A Blake Collection for Princeton" in the Princeton University Library Chronicle XXI, 3 (Spring, 1960) pp. 172-175 [ full text] as well as Charles Ryskamp. William Blake, Engraver: A Descriptive Catalogue of an Exhibition. (Princeton: Princeton University Library, 1969) [(Ex) ND497.B5.R95]

Also see: Charles Ryskamp, "Songs of Innocence and of Experience and Miss Caroline Newton's Blake Collection" in the Princeton University Library Chronicle XXIX, 2 (Winter, 1968) pp.150-55 [ full text] , which states that the gift of Caroline Newton is the "most beautiful and important work of Blake at Princeton." It is copy U (Keynes and Wolf census) of Songs of Innocence and of Experience, Shewing the Two Contrary States of the Human Soul. There are 54 plates by Blake [(Ex) 3631.3.388.1794 c. 1].