Languages & Literature

Our collections are excellent resources for the study of language, linguistics and literature; they span over 2000 years of human activity and cover many periods and regions of the world. This page provides:

Tips for locating relevant material


  • To search across all our collections, by name or keyword, please use the rare books search (for printed material) and the manuscripts search (for unpublished material including notebooks, papers, photographs and drawings)
  • Narrow your search by choosing the appropriate language from the drop down menu in the manuscripts document search or the rare books search


Collections of general interest


  • Ballads: some 408 black-letter English broadside ballads in the Euing collection, plus many examples of Scottish ballads in Murray collection (broadsides) and chapbooks collection
  • Dictionaries: dispersed collection constituting about 500 items
  • Douglas Papers: 18th century collection includes a series of manuscript English, French, Latin and Greek grammars, and a set of papers on the works of Horace (MS Hunter D526-D560)


Arabic & Persian


  • Farmer: papers of Henry George Farmer (1882-1965), musician and orientalist
  • Hunterian: includes medieval/Renaissance Arabic manuscripts
  • General manuscripts: includes medieval/Renaissance Arabic manuscripts

See also the following book of the month article:




See Scottish section for writers in English, of Scottish origin.

  • Blake Prints: includes original works by the artist and poet William Blake (1757-1827)
  • Euing: especially strong in 17th and 18th century English literature
  • Hepburn: includes many first editions of 19th century English novelists and poets
  • Hobsbaum: papers of influential Professor of English Literature, Philip Hobsbaum (1932-2005) 
  • Hunterian: includes important Middle-English manuscripts and printed works (including quarto plays) from the Renaissance
  • Ker family papers: dating from the 1860s to the 1920s, particularly relating to William Paton Ker (1855-1923), literary scholar 
  • MacColl papers: includes correspondence with many of the leading figures in the literary and artistic world between 1880 and 1940
  • Monro: an almost complete collection of the printed editions of the works of the 17th-century prose stylist Sir Thomas Browne
  • Novels: some 1,800 titles of late 18th century and 19th century fiction
  • Stone Library: mainly 19th century publications, and particularly strong in English Literature

Web exhibitions relating to English language and literature:




  • Henderson Manuscripts: several hundred Gaelic manuscripts and transcriptions formed by the Rev Dr George Henderson (d 1912),  including the 17th-century Ratisbon Manuscript
  • McLagan Manuscripts: 254 Gaelic manuscripts, predominantly poetry
  • McNicol Manuscripts: 95 Gaelic documents, mainly sermons

See also:




  • Douglas Papers: 18th century collection including a series of manuscript Greek grammars
  • Hamilton: the library of Sir William Hamilton (1788-1856), with many Greek classical texts, including 150 editions of Aristotle
  • Hunterian: includes manuscripts and early printed books in Greek. William Hunter (1718-1783) was particularly interested in the development of Greek typography
  • Jebb: some 180 volumes from the library of the Greek scholar Sir Richard Claverhouse Jebb (1841-1905), particularly strong in Sophoclean literature
  • Papyrus fragments: Greek documents from 1st to 5th centuries AD
  • Simson: mainly early mathematical and astronomical texts. Research by Robert Simson (1687-1768) concentrated on early Greek geometers, particularly Euclid, Pappus of Alexandria and Apollonius of Perga.

Web exhibitions featuring Greek texts:

  • Foulis Press: describes books and manuscripts produced by the renowned 18th century printing firm (predominantly classical texts)
  • Homer: The Iliad Venice: 1640 (Book of the Month: March 2009)
  • Poliorcetici Graeci (Treatises on Engines and Weapons) Italy: c 1510 (Book of the Month: August 2008)
  • 12th century manuscript of the Greek Gospels (Book of the Month: April 2006)




  • Blau: 193 Hebrew books, comprising mainly Talmud and Biblical commentary, with Italian imprints predominating; many date from the 16th century
  • James Robertson: correspondence addressed to a Professor of Hebrew and Semitic languages, covering the period 1864-1885




  • Scarfe-La Trobe: collection of over 1000 Spanish plays (including sueltas and desglosadas), ranging in date from the 17th to the end of the 19th centuries

Web exhibitions featuring relevant material:

  • Hispanica: web exhibition that describes items from the 15th to 19th centuries from various collections, grouped around the themes of literature, emblems, religion, language, music, art, history and science 
  • Scarfe-La Trobe collection 17th to 19th centuries (Book of the Month: April 2003)
  • Diego Muñoz Camargo: Historia de Tlaxcala Mexico: 1585 (Book of the Month: January 2003)




Latin is the predominant language of our European manuscripts and early printed books and relevant material may be found across our collections. However, students of classical Latin literature may find the following of particular interest:

  • Douglas Papers: 18th century collection includes a series of manuscript Latin grammars, and a set of papers on the works of Horace
  • Hamilton: the library of Sir William Hamilton (1788-1856), including many Latin classical texts and 200 volumes of Latin poetry of the 16th and 17th centuries
  • Hunterian: includes many manuscript and early printed editions of classical Latin texts
  • Old Library: Latin texts as studied in the early University curriculum, and books from the former Latin Class Library

Web exhibitions featuring Latin classical texts:




  • Bayer: 18th century collection of Chinese and other oriental books and manuscripts, including palmleaf books in Tamil and Telugu, notes on oriental history and philology, and correspondence with the Jesuits in Peking
  • Farmer: papers and books of Henry George Farmer (1882-1965), musician and orientalist, including oriental publications
  • Waddell: over 700 volumes, including items dealing with Assyrian and Sumerian languages

This book of the month article may be of interest:




Relevant material may also be found in the English section.

  • Thomas Campbell: papers of Thomas Campbell (1777-1844), poet and Rector of the University of Glasgow
  • Jane Duncan: drafts of books, correspondence and press cuttings of the writer Jane Duncan (1910-1976)
  • Alasdair Gray: drafts and papers of the novel Lanark by the artist and writer Alasdair Gray (b 1934). 
  • James Findlay Hendry: papers of the author, poet and translator James Findlay Hendry (1912-1986), including drafts of work and correspondence with other poets, artists and authors
  • Tom Leonard: material relating to Leonard's book Places of the Mind (1993) about the 19th century Scottish poet James Thomson ("B.V.")
  • Edwin Morgan Papers: collection of 1,000 holograph poems by Edwin Morgan (1920-2010), with several thousand additional papers, including correspondence and poetry reading notes 
  • George Neilson: late 19th/early 20th century papers of an academic historian, including material on philology and early Scottish literature
  • D. S. Robertson: collection of holograph poems and letters (over 700 items) of two Renfrewshire poets: Robert Tannahill (1774-1810) and William Motherwell (1797-1835)
  • Scottish Poetry Collection: mainly 20th century Scottish poetry, particularly strong in the works of Ian Hamilton Finlay and Edwin Morgan
  • Scottish Theatre Archive: major collection of material from the early 19th century onwards, including programmes, scripts, production notes, photographs, posters, and presscuttings relating to a wide variety of theatres

Web exhibitions featuring relevant material:


Victorian literature


  • Victorian Resources web pages: includes a section dedicated to Victorian books of poetry, fiction and travel literature drawn from a number of collections
  • Novels: some 1,800 titles of late 18th century and 19th century fiction

Web exhibitions featuring Victorian works of literature: