Collections of Distinction

Spanish and Portuguese Literature

Location: Rare Books Department


Illustrated page The Ticknor Library of Spanish and Portuguese literature is a 10,000-volume collection that covers many aspects of Spanish, Portuguese, and Latin American literature and history, including books on art, science, law, and theology. As a collection, the Ticknor Collection is remarkable for its completeness in all that pertains to Spanish literature and belles lettres. Many of these volumes are first editions and handwritten manuscripts that are exceedingly rare. The materials are primarily in Spanish, some are in Portuguese, and selected volumes are in Catalan.

A Harvard professor of Spanish and French and a founding trustee of the Boston Public Library, George Ticknor developed this collection while traveling through Spain and Portugal in 1818. The collection was bequeathed to the library in 1871 and has grown to its present size from the original bequest of 3,907 books.

The collection is especially rich in every phase of Spanish literature, from early editions of Don Quixote (1605) to the manuscript of Lope de Vega’s El Castigo sin Venganza and from the earliest edition of Celestina (Seville, 1502) to the Obras of Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, the 17th-century Mexican poet. The collection is an important source for major collections of authors such as Pedro Calderon de la Barca, Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Benito Geronimo Feyjoo y Montenegro, Luiz de Camoens, Luiz Velez de Guevara, and Fernan Caballero. Among the rare historical and political works that can be found are Los Tratados del Doctor Alonso Ortiz  (1493) by Alonso Ortiz, which contain the earliest reference to the discoveries of Columbus.

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