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Arizona State University have announced the acquisition of the Robert Lawler Collection of English Renaissance texts, including significant works by Milton, Chaucer, Raleigh and Swift.

The sale was made by Alcuin Books & Autographs, LLC., which had acquired the collection from Arizona businessman and book collector Robert A. Lawler. Discussing the collection, Richard Murian, owner of Alcuin Books described it thus:

"Besides the 1550 Chaucer, there were also the 1598, 1602, and 1687 editions which according to Professor Richard Neuhauser (editor of the forthcoming 4-volume Chaucer Encyclopedia) adds greatly to the significance of the [University's] collection since in some cases it includes Chaucer apocryphal material that has never been recorded as existing in a single copy.  The 1527 remarkable Polychronicon was a superb copy as were the Fabian Chronicle (1559), the Grafton Chronicles (1572), as well as three 17th Century editions of Milton including a beautiful copy of the first illustrated Milton (1688).  Other important copies were the Beaumont and Fletcher, First Edition (second impression), Ben Jonson's Workes (1680),  Sir Walter Raleigh's The Historie of the World (1628) and a very rare Italian edition of Plutarch (1568)."

Commenting on the importance of the acquisition, ASU Librarian Jim O'Donnell said “Books like those in the Lawler collection give scholars and students a precious opportunity to see and touch and even smell the past. We can think better about the past and thus about our present when we have the opportunity to work with them.”  

The ASU Department of English sponsors a biennial Chaucer Festival which brings scholars, students, and the general public together to further the understanding of Chaucer and his world. Plans are already being made to draw on the new acquisitions for the next event, scheduled for the spring of 2018.

Read more about the acquisition...


Image: Polychronicon (detail) by Alcuin Books