Special Collections’s holdings in American, British, and Irish literature constitute one of the most important collections of its kind in the world. Although they include numerous works from earlier centuries, Special Collections’s literature holdings are especially strong from the eighteenth through the twentieth centuries. The collection encompasses a wide range of genres and formats and includes first and variant editions, manuscript and archival collections, broadsides, visual materials, ephemera, and sound recordings.

Eighteenth and nineteenth century holdings include first or early editions of the works of virtually every important American, British, and Irish literary figure from the period. Of particular note are holdings of the work of the British romantic poets, notably Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and their circle. The Mark Samuels Lasner Collection features British literature from the period 1850-1900, including works by Aubrey Beardsley, Max Beerbohm, William Morris, Christina and Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Algernon Charles Swinburne, and Oscar Wilde, among others. Nineteenth-century American fiction includes comprehensive collections for such authors as Nathaniel Hawthorne, James Fenimore Cooper, Herman Melville, Mark Twain, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and a host of others.

The University of Delaware Library’s holdings in twentieth-century literature are internationally-renowned and are consulted daily by students and scholars from throughout the world. Printed holdings include strong collections of the work of a wide range of twentieth-century authors, runs of little magazines, and the publications of small and independent literary presses. Of particular interest are the Library’s holdings in twentieth-century poetry and in contemporary Irish literature. Two other collections of significance include the Frank W. Tober Collection, a central component of which is an extensive collection on literary forgery; and the library of Waldo Frank, which includes more than four hundred volumes from this important American author, including inscribed presentation copies of works by many of the most celebrated authors of the twentieth century.

Special Collections houses the manuscripts and papers of numerous authors, including David T. Bazelon, Paul Bowles, John Malcolm Brinnin, Joseph Caldwell, Brian Coffey, Emily Coleman, Cid Corman, Alice Dunbar Nelson, Edward Field, Mark Harris, Katherine Hoskins, Elizabeth Jennings, Donald Justice, Hugh MacDiarmid, George Moore, Ulick O’Connor, Ishmael Reed, Gilbert Sorrentino, W. D. Snodgrass, and Louis Untermeyer. Strong collections of manuscripts, correspondence, and papers are also present for such authors as Djuna Barnes, Kay Boyle, Alfred Chester, James T. Farrell, Charles Henri Ford, Kimon Friar, Jane Heap, Ernest Hemingway, James Leo Herlihy, Rudi Holzapfel, Charles Johnson, Seymour Lawrence, Thomas MacGreevey, Sean O’Faolain, Toby Olson, Carl Sandburg, George Bernard Shaw, Julian Symons, Kurt Vonnegut, Tennessee Williams, William Carlos Williams, W. B. Yeats, and many other twentieth century literary figures. Special Collections also houses archives of little magazines, such as ChanticleerPagany, and Signatures, and of small and independent presses, notably Peter Owen, the Pentagram Press, the Proscenium Press, and the Raven Arts Press, all of whom have made important contributions to twentieth century literary publishing.