The Private Case. Foxcroft Lecture on Bibliography and Book History for 2016

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In the first extended scholarly treatment of the subject in English, Dr Patrick Spedding outlines the history of “private case” collections — the restricted access collections of purportedly dangerous, indelicate or obscene books in libraries from the Vatican to the British Museum, from the New York Public Library to France's Bibliotheque Nationale, and even at the State Library of Victoria.

Drawing on records of dozens of private case collections, he describes the range, purpose and common characteristics of such collections, explaining the lengths that various libraries went to obscure to the existence of their collections and prevent readers from gaining access to the books—or even the titles of the books—within them.

This book, a revised and much-expanded version of Spedding’s 2016 Foxcroft lecture, contains a substantial appendix, enumerating more than thirty-five private case collections and summarising the scholarship available on each of them.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationMelbourne Vic Australia
PublisherAncora Press
Number of pages56
ISBN (Print)9780648118947
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Book history
  • Censorship
  • literary history

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