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Michigan State University

British Studies: the 18th Century, a Guide to Topics in the MSU Libraries' Collections: BIOGRAPHY AND 'WORKS'

This is a guide to 18th-century British studies materials, particularly in our Special Collections and Rare Books unit.



Biographical works in the Collection range from Abel (of the Bible) and Peter Abelard to John Wycliffe and Nicolaus Zinzendorf. The greatest number of biographies are of English people, followed by titled English. Other persons well represented are the French, and other royal figures, French and other European titled persons, the ancients, and non-titled Frenchmen. There are works on a smattering of North Americans, religious figures, and others associated with churches or religion. The collection also has biographical material on various groups, such as American Indians, Dissenters, Jesuits, Jews, lawyers, physicians, gypsies, the Society of Friends (Quakers), statesmen, famous European and English families (for example, the Medici, Stuarts, Wesleys), Tories, wives, women, young men, young women, and youth. As the lion's share of the materials were collected prior to 20th-century feminism, most of the biographies are of males, or if about women, of royal figures, for example Queen Anne, Mary Queen of Scots, and Elizabeth I. Examples of a few persons on whom we have biographical works include the following: Alfred the Great, King of England, John Arbuthnot, Francis Bacon, Elias Ashmole, Samuel Johnson, Joseph Priestley, Sir Walter Raleigh, and William Shenstone.

Books whose titles purport to be "works" or "complete works" of particular authors include the following, among many others: Ann Eliza Bleeckner, Susanna Centlivre, Catherine Yeo Jemmat, Mary Jones, Elizabeth Robinson Montague, Lady Mary Wortley Montague, Sappho, Fanny Woodbury, Joseph Addison, Giovanni Boccaccio, Edmund Burke, Robert Burns, George Gordon Byron, the Earl of Chesterfield, Cicero, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Hobbes, Ben Jonson, Samuel Johnson, Niccolo Macchiavelli, Ovid, Alexander Pope, Jean Jacques Rousseau, William Shenstone, William Shakespeare, Virgil, and Jonathan Witherspoon.