Rare books guide

The Cadbury Research Library houses over 250,000 printed and rare books dating from 1471 to the present day.

Our collections cover a vast range of subjects including the sciences, humanities, fine arts, music, travel, and history. We also hold significant volumes of fiction, plays, and poetry, with a particular strength in those dating between the sixteenth century and twentieth century.

Search our book catalogue FindIt@bham for details of the books the CRL holds. 

Key named collections

Alongside our general sequences of books, there are a number of separately designated named collections. These named collections contain books previously owned by, curated by, or related to either an institution or an individual.

Several of our key named collections relate to parish library collections of religious and theological texts. These collections include:

Bengeworth Collection

This library was bequeathed by Rev John Shaw to the parish of Bengeworth, Evesham, in 1854. It consists mainly of theological and classical works from the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries.

St Mary's Collection

The parochial library of St Mary's Church, Warwick, was established in 1701. It numbers about 1,400 volumes, mostly on theological subjects, including nearly 100 volumes published in the sixteenth century and over 600 in the seventeenth century.

Wigan Collection

This library of more than 3,000 printed items was the property of the Rev Thomas Wigan (1743-1818), minister of Wribbenhall. He bequeathed it to the nearby town of Bewdley, where it served as a public library. It contains volumes of theology, history, law, science and literature.

We have a rich selection of fine printing and private press books within separate named collections. These collections include:

Aston Bindings Collection

This is a 50-volume set of Sacred Books of the East. It was printed at the Clarendon Press between 1879-1910. The set is sumptuously bound by J. Aston.

Baskerville Collection

This collection of over 170 volumes includes books from the press of Birmingham letter-founder and printer, John Baskerville (1706-1775). Baskerville created one of the world's most famous typefaces.

Birmingham Printing Collection

This collection comprises approximately 500 books, pamphlets and ephemera, printed under the direction of Leonard Jay at the Birmingham School of Printing, during the period 1926-1953.

Bodoni Collection

This collection of around 200 volumes offers insight into the work of Giambattista Bodoni (1740-1813), an Italian engraver, publisher, printer and typographer.

Foulis Collection

This collection of around 200 titles represents about one third of the total output of this celebrated eighteenth century Glasgow press, founded by the brothers Robert (1707-1776) and Andrew (1712-1775) Foulis.

Kelmscott Collection

This collection of around 60 books relates to one of the most famous private presses: the Kelmscott Press, founded at Hammersmith by William Morris and Emery Walker in 1891.

We additionally hold named collections relating to prominent individuals, these include;

Shakespeare Collection

Over 2,000 items, including early editions of the works of Shakespeare and his contemporaries, as well as texts which relate to the Early Modern period.

The Boulton D.H. Lawrence Collection

Over 300 books acquired to support the work of Professor JT Boulton in his role of editor of Lawrence's letters and as general editor of the D.H. Lawrence at the Cambridge University Press.

The Havelock Ellis Collection

Approximately 85 of the personal copies of books published by Henry Havelock Ellis (1859-1939), writer and sexologist. Many of the items are inscribed and some are annotated.

The Hensleigh Wedgwood Collection

Over 550 books from the library of Hensleigh Wedgwood (1803-1891), an important philologist, grandson of Josiah Wedgwood and cousin and brother-in-law of Charles Darwin.

New and withdrawn items 

If you already know the items you wish to consult, please check our new and withdrawn items before visiting to avoid disappointment.