Virtual Libraries

Morris Study-WMLibrary
The Library of William Morris: A Catologue:



The Thomas Jefferson Library at the Library of Congress:


Similar to the efforts of Reading with Austen and the search for books in the Godmersham Park Library, the website Frances Wolfreston Hor Bouks seeks to find all the works owned by this gentrywoman from the English Midlands:


The Stainforth Library of Women’s Writing:

A study of the largest private library of Anglophone women’s writing collected in the nineteenth century – the library of Francis John Stainforth (1797-1866), an Anglican clergyman. His library catalog (online at the University of Colorado, Boulder) lists 7,726 editions (8,804 volumes) authored and edited by 3,721 writers, nearly all of whom are women.


You can visit LibraryThing for their Legacy Libraries collection where they have nearly 2000 libraries of historical figures catalogued:

Legacy Libraries are the libraries of historical people (as well as a few institutions), entered into LibraryThing by dedicated members working from a variety of sources, including published bibliographies, auction catalogs, library holdings, manuscript lists, wills and probate inventories, and personal inspection of extant copies.

I will list and link to those of people with some connection to Jane Austen:

SJohson-LT1. Samuel Johnson (841 books):

SirWalterScott-LT2. Sir Walter Scott (4027+ – in progress):

The 1st editions of Austen’s Emma and Northanger Abbey / Persuasion are listed.


Boston Athenaeum – Exhibit collage

The King’s Chapel Library at the Boston Athenaeum: A major exhibition, Required Reading: Reimagining a Colonial Library  [through March 14, 2020] showcases and interprets the King’s Chapel Library Collection, one of the surviving treasures of 17th century Boston. Review the list of books in the King’s Chapel Library here and visit the gallery to see featured books in person:


Edith Wharton’s Library at The Mount is currently being digitized. It is searchable here:


The Shakespeare and Company Project at Princeton: the catalogue and analysis of the famous Paris Lending Library “Shakespeare and Company” (you will find all of Jane Austen’s works!):


Thomas Hardy’s Library at Max Gate has been reconstructed by Michael Millgate. You can read about the library here:

and download a 285 page pdf of the contents here:

or as an HTML:


Book Owners Online:

Image from BOO: Sir William Dugdale of Blyth Hall in 1656, etching by Wenceslaus Hollar (detail). Source: Wikimedia Commons

Book Owners Online is a directory of historical book owners, with information about their libraries, and signposts to further reference sources. It currently covers seventeenth-century English owners with the potential to be expanded. It is built around a backbone of named owners of libraries, who died between 1610 and 1715, for each of whom there is an entry with a standard structure. There are links to owner virtual libraries if one exists [see for example Frances Wolfreston].

Spearheaded by David Pearson, BOO is a publication of the Bibliographical Society in partnership with the UCL Centre for Lives and Letters (CELL).


Edith Rockefeller McCormick – Chicagology

Not quite a “virtual” library, but here is the auction catalogue of the library of Edith Rockefeller McCormick – alas! not complete, as many of the works were sold in large lots:

But this catalogue gives you a notion of the depth and breadth of this heiress and bibliophile’s personal library of 15,000 volumes, now, like the Godmersham Park Library, scattered all the world over.


Princess Elizabeth, by William Beechey – wikipedia



Princess Elizabeth (1770-1840), the daughter of George III, had a library of her own that was auctioned off in 1863 – you can view the contents here at google books:

Catalogue of the Valuable & Choice Library of H.R.H. The Princess Elizabeth, Landgravine of Hesse-Homburg, (Daughter of H.M. George The Third).


The Marguerite Hicks Collection of Women’s Literature at the Kresge Library, Oakland University:

The Marguerite Hicks Collection documents the literary production of women, or about women, in the United Kingdom in the 17th, 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries, with the strongest holdings for the 17th and 18th centuries. Some American female writers are also represented.

More information on the collection can be found here:


Durham Priory Library Recreated:

Durham possesses the finest collection of medieval manuscripts of any English cathedral. Durham University, in partnership with Durham Cathedral, is engaged in an ambitious project to digitise Durham Priory Library – the books owned and used by the Benedictine monastery of Durham and its dependent cells.

A list of titles digitized so far:


Women of the Book Collection at Johns Hopkins University:

“Sheridan Libraries’ Women of the Book collection, which contains more than 425 books, manuscripts, and other printed ephemera produced between 1460 and 1800. Acquired by the university in 2017, the collection centers on the lives of nuns and holy women in Europe and parts of South America. It includes details of their daily devotions, records of their entrances into convents and religious orders, mystical accounts of their encounters with saints and angels, and even public announcements of their symbolic marriages with Christ. Through their association with the church, these nuns were granted access to tools of the printed word that would enable them to preserve their histories. Collectively, Women of the Book offers a rare look into the lives of early modern women.” [Johns Hopkins Magazine: ]