Welcome to the unique collection of the Massachusetts Center for Renaissance Studies. In addition to housing over 25,000 books and monographs related to the English and Continental Renaissance, the Center owns around 700 rare books from the period, covering a range of fields including philosophy, religion, history, literature, astronomy, economics, and mathematics. On this site, you will be able to search our extensive collection, learn about our recent acquisitions, and stay informed about upcoming events and current exhibitions.
Archival Collections and Working Libraries
Yale Thomas More Collection
Consists of all of the books, manuscripts, photostats, microfilms, and editorial correspondence concerning the edition of the Works of St. Thomas More published by Yale (15 volumes, published from 1963-1997). Richard S. Sylvester—one of the chief editors in the project—owned most of the books in the collection, many of which contain his handwritten marginalia.
The Dame Helen Gardner Papers
Dame Helen Gardner (1908-1986) was one of the twentieth century's preeminent Donne scholars, producing editions of the poet's Divine Poems (1952) and Elegies and Songs and Sonnets (1965). She also published work on T.S. Eliot, Milton, and Shakespeare. She was widely admired all over the world as an excellent lecturer. The Center's “Gardner Collection” includes all of the working notes for her editions of Donne and Eliot, professional correspondence and lectures on Shakespeare and Renaissance English drama.
The Harriet Hawkins Papers
Harriet Hawkins (1934-1995), longtime professor of English literature at Vassar College, was an influential critic of English Renaissance poetry and drama. Some of her research interests included Shakespeare, poetics, literary taboo, and chaos theory. The Center's collection includes all of Hawkins's correspondence, lectures, essays, reviews, books, and some personal papers.
The J.H. Hexter Library
Professor J.H. “Jack” Hexter (1910-1996), historian who taught at Washington University and Yale, published important work on St. Thomas More, Machiavelli, and English Renaissance historiography. Hexter is well known for his categorical distinction between the “lumpers” and the “splitters.” At the time of his death he was working on an ambitious “History of Modern Freedom.” This collection consists of Hexter's working library, which contains many annotated volumes.
The Raymond J. Lord Collection of Historical Combat Treatises and Fencing Manuals
The Raymond J. Lord Collection is a digital archive of historical combat treatises and fencing manuals dating primarily from the Renaissance. The collection contains over 30 digitized combat manuals, dating from the early 16th century to the mid17 th century and spanning most of Western Europe. To explore the collection click here.
The Alan and Rosalie Soons Library of Hispanic Studies
Professor Emeritus Alan Soons, formerly of the Department of Romance Languages at UMass Amherst, has published numerous articles and editions related to Golden Age Spain throughout his long career. The collection contains over 2,000 items on Golden Age Spain, including manuscripts, rare books, and monographs. Professor Soons continually donates rare books on Renaissance French, Italian, and Spanish literature and culture.
The Irving P. Rothberg Collection
In addition to the Alan Soons Collection, books donated by Professor Emeritus Irving P. Rothberg (UMass-Romance Languages) create a large and rich collection of materials related to early modern Spanish history, literature, and culture. The collection contains over 1,000 primary and secondary sources in the Spanish literature of the Golden Age.
The Roy Flannagan Collection
Professor Roy Flannagan, of the English Department at the University of Ohio, has published numerous books and articles on John Milton, in addition to editing the Riverside Milton. The collection contains more than 1,500 resources (mainly scholarly monographs) in the literature and culture of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, with an especial focus on John Milton.
The Roland Mushat Frye Collection
Professor Roland Mushat Frye (1922-2005), an eminent scholar in Miltonic and theological studies, taught at Emory University and the University of Pennsylvania. He published hundreds of scholarly articles and books, including Milton's Imagery and the Visual Arts and Shakespeare and Christian Doctrine . The collection contains all of Frye's working papers and notes.
The Robert Kinsman Papers
Professor Robert S. Kinsman (1919-2006) taught English literature at UCLA for over 40 years. He published important work on the poems of John Skelton, including John Skelton: Canon an d Census (1967). Kinsman's research interests also including the works of James Joyce. The collection contains Kinsman's working papers, including those related to his unfinished Complete Works of Skelton.
Major Donations to the Main Collection
The Arthur F. Kinney Collection
The collection of Professor Arthur F. Kinney, the Center's founder and director, is the cornerstone of our library. His collection includes over 12,000 manuscripts, rare books, maps, facsimiles, monographs, and editions, mostly related to English Renaissance political and social history, literature, religion, music, and art.
The Samuel Schoenbaum Collection
Samuel Schoenbaum (1927-1996) was one of the foremost Shakespearean scholars of the 20 th century. His numerous seminal publications include Internal Evidence and Elizabethan Dramatic Authorship (1966), Shakespeare's Lives (1970), and Shakespeare: A Documentary Life (1974). The collection consists of many of Schoenbaum's annotated books, in addition to several handsome 19 th editions of English Renaissance dramatists.
The O.B. Hardison, Jr. Collection
Professor O.B. Hardison, Jr. (1929-1990), who taught at Georgetown University and directed the Folger Shakespeare Library from 1969-1983, was an eminent scholar of Renaissance studies. The collection focuses upon Renaissance poetry and poetics, including Renaissance editions of Italian works.
The William A. Ringler, Jr. Collection
William A. Ringler, Jr. (1912-1987), editor of the Clarendon Press Poems of Sir Philip Sidney (1962), was also known for his important bibliographic work, including the Bibliography and Index of English Verse, 1476-1558 (published posthumously by Stephen May). The collection contains over 200 rare books and first editions and 1500 secondary volumes, with a special emphasis on Tudor history and the life and work of Sir Philip Sidney.
The Robert “Bob” Hoopes Collection
Robert Hoopes (1920-2008), who served an instrumental role as the first Dean of Faculty at Oakland University (Michigan), completed his career as an English professor at UMass Amherst (1970-90). He published much work on English Renaissance literature and culture. The collection focuses on English intellectual history of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, with an especial concentration on Milton and seventeenth century poetry.
The Dan S. Collins Collection
Dan S. Collins was co-founder of the journal English Literary Renaissance (with Arthur F. Kinney). An annual lecture is given at the Center every spring in his name. The collection contains 4,000 works on the prose and poetry of the 17th century.
The G. Blakemore Evans Collection
Gwynne Blakemore Evans (1913-2006) was a Shakespearean who taught at Harvard University and was editor of the Riverside Shakespeare (first pub. 1974). He also wrote books on William Cartwright and Robert Parry. The collection consists entirely of rare books from Evans personal library.
The Gerald Snare Collection
Gerald Snare taught at Tulane University wrote The Mystification of George Chapman (Duke, 1989). The collection consists of books of prose and poetry from the 16th and 17th centuries, with an especial focus on Spenser.
The David Alan Brown Collection
Curator of Italian Paintings at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, David Alan Brown is a world-renowned scholar of Renaissance Italian art. His donations have given the Renaissance Center one of the best collections on Italian Art in the state. Many of the books in the collection are unique to the Pioneer Valley.
Contact the Curator
David Katz, Curator
Massachusetts Center for Renaissance Studies