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Senate House Library

Austin Dobson Collection

This is the only known collection devoted to the London-based poet and author (Henry) Austin Dobson (1840-1921).

The Collection 

Subject: English literature 

This is the only known collection devoted to the London-based poet and author (Henry) Austin Dobson (1840-1921; see ODNB). It contains almost 640 titles generated by him, printed between 1866 and 1928. These are divided into four sections:  

(A) multiple editions of books written by Austin Dobson, literary and biographical;  

(B) works edited by him (mainly literature composed during the eighteenth century, with particular emphasis on Oliver Goldsmith);  

(C) works to which he contributed;  

(D) books containing references to him.  

Almost every edition of every work written or edited by Dobson is present, together with a major collection of his contributions to newspapers and periodicals. The collection includes copies corrected by Austin Dobson; books with correspondence, notes or press cuttings tipped in; inscription copies; and limited editions. Some of the works to which Dobson contributed are illustrated, and renowned illustrators include Gustave Doré, Randolph Caldecott, Hugh Thomson and Charles Brock.  

The collection is primarily literary. However, Dobson’s early Civil Service history and geography books for examination candidates (1867-1887) are present. There are also several musical scores with lyrics by Dobson. Manuscripts of Dobson’s work provide the opportunity to trace the development of Dobson’s work from conception to print and, moreover, include some unpublished work. 

Austin Dobson’s youngest son, the civil servant Alban Tabor Austin Dobson (1885-1962), amassed the bulk of the collection around a nucleus of material from his father’s own collection (partly inherited, partly bought from the sale of a portion of Austin Dobson’s library at Sotheby’s, 13 March 1922). Alban Dobson managed Austin Dobson’s literary estate and edited some of his work. He donated his collection in 1946. The collection was subsequently enlarged by gifts from Alban’s son, Christopher Selby Austin Dobson, from other members of the family, and by Library purchases.

Access to the collection

For an overview of the collection, do a mixed classmark search on [A.D.C.]. The collection is held off-site and material requires 48 hours (excluding weekends) to be fetched.   

Related materials 

MS810, manuscripts and correspondence 

Further reading 

Dobson, Alban, Catalogue of the Collection of the Works of Austin Dobson (1840-1921) (London: University of London Library, 1960).