The Cyril Connolly Library

Three Reliques of Ancient Western Poetry
Three Reliques of Ancient
Western Poetry Inscribed
by Edmund Wilson for
Cyril Connolly

Acquired in January of 1976, Cyril Connolly’s library numbers over 8,000 books, 1,100 issues of literary periodicals, and numerous letters from such major literary figures as Stephen Spender, T. S. Eliot, W. H. Auden, John Betjeman, Evelyn Waugh, and others. It is a library that documents a literary age as well as an individual reader’s and collector’s taste. As a collector of authors he admired, Connolly was often thorough: for example, the library contains twenty-five different volumes (many in multiple editions) of W. H.  Auden’s writing. These volumes date from his first book Poems (hand-printed by Stephen Spender in 1928 and inscribed by both Auden and Spender) and are all signed by the author. Also, the collection contains a significant number of first editions of Ezra Pound’s work, many of which are signed. Indeed, practically all of the authors Connolly highlighted in The Modern Movement are represented in depth in his library.

Crome Yellow
Title page of Crome
Yellow shown with the
inscription by Aldous
Huxley for Cyril

Connolly was more than just a collector of rare or signed editions, however. He was a renowned and influential literary critic, author, and magazine editor. His library, therefore, reflects the diversity of his activities. Numerous volumes in the collection are annotated by Connolly and provide fascinating insights in to the mind of a working critic during the act of reading. With the increasing scholarly interest in how one reads what one reads, these annotated volumes offer a firm basis for understanding the reading processes of one who shaped literary opinion. Moreover, the Connolly library is an essential research tool for any future biographer of Connolly since it contains books inscribed by many friends and associates.

Another important aspect of the Connolly collection is his library of nineteenth- and twentieth-century French authors. This body of material relating to concepts of modernism is particularly rich in writers of the 1920s, such as Bataille, Breton, Cocteau, Proust, and Tzara. Furthermore, the collection contains the masterpieces of nineteenth-century French literature by Stendahl, Mallarme, Maupassant, J. K.  Huysmans, Flaubert, and Baudelaire.

— A Guide to Literary and Related Materials

About Marc Carlson

The Librarian of Special Collections and University Archives, McFarlin Library, The University of Tulsa since November 2005.He holds a Masters in Library and Information Studies from the University of Oklahoma, and a Bachelor of Arts in History and Anthropology from Oklahoma State University. He has worked in McFarlin Library since 1986.
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