North Texas Daily

First-edition Victorian literature comes to campus

First-edition Victorian literature comes to campus

First-edition Victorian literature comes to campus
September 14
20:05 2014

Paul Wedding / Intern Writer

Willis Library’s Special Collections Reading Room will hold an exhibition this semester allowing students a look at some rare pieces of Victorian literature collected by professor emeritus Don Vann.

The Victorian Era of England lasted most of the 1800s during Queen Victoria’s reign. The books written during this time featured tales of struggle and harshness, typically ending with some signs of improvement and with a moral lesson. The most well known author during the Victorian Era, and the most featured author in the exhibition, is Charles Dickens.

Vann’s collection features first editions and rare copies of many of Dickens’ most well known works, including A Christmas Carol and David Copperfield.

“Dr. Vann has been collecting these books for most of his life,” special collections head Morgan Gieringer said. “He is part of the last generation to study Victorian literature as it was originally published in part issue.”

Dickens originally published his novels in part issue format, meaning that he would publish them 32 pages at a time for the readers to collect, with a new issue out each month. The collection features many original part issues, including Dickens’ The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club and The History of Pendennis by William Thackeray.

Gieringer said one of the benefits of being able to see the books in their original format is that it gives a little insight as to how books were published in 19th century England.

“These materials are fairly rare and valuable because they are so old,” she said. “It’s interesting to examine these books as artifacts as well as literary texts.

Vann believes that there is a lot that students could learn by looking at these books.

“For the scholar, what’s important is the text,” he said in a video interview with Morgan Gieringer. “There’s a qualitative difference to having that book in your hand and seeing it on a lighted screen.”

Vann believes that students could find a lot of inspiration through Dickens’ novels, as many are about coming of age and the adjustment of personal values.

Business junior Dakota Johnson is intrigued by the opportunity to see the rare books in Vann’s collection.

“It would be great to go back and see what the original writing was like,” Johnson said.

The Vann Victorian Collection will have a grand opening night on Oct. 3 from 7-9 p.m.

Featured Image: Professor emeritus Don Vann’s collection of Victorian literature sits on display in the Willis Library Special Collections Reading Room. The collection includes “A Christmas Carol” and “David Copperfield” by Charles Dickens. Photo by Kaleigh Gremaud – Intern Writer

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