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You are here Library Departments > Early Printed Books & Special Collections > Subject Strengths

Poetry in English

There is a wide-ranging collection of poetry in English printed from the late 16th century to the present day.

The collection is strong in 18th -century holdings and Swift is particularly well represented.

The collection contains a substantial quantity of verse including many unique items printed in Dublin in the 1720s and 1730s. These were acquired in five volumes of half sheets purchased at the sale of Sir William Betham’s books in 1854.

Good quantities of later 18th-century poetry have been purchased in recent decades. The legal deposit privilege, granted in 1801, has brought tens of thousands of items to the collection.

Popular verse is found in late 18th- and early 19th-century chapbooks some of which were printed in Irish provincial towns:

  • The J.D. White collection contains almost 1000 slip ballads printed in Ireland in the 1850s and 1860s
  • The Samuels collection contains ballads seized as subversive by the Royal Irish Constabulary in the period 1914-1921

The Department of Early Printed Books developed a collection of concrete poetry in the late 1960s and 1970s. It now keeps all Anglo-Irish poetry as well as items printed by private presses.