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Senate House Library

Playne Collection

The Collection 

Subject: Modern History 

Caroline Elizabeth Playne (1857-1948; see ODNB) was a London-based pacifist and historian who wrote several books examining the role of the media in creating a cultural anticipation and acceptance of war. In 1938 she donated her collection of books and manuscripts to the University of London.  

The printed element comprises some 530 books and pamphlets pertaining to the First World War. Monographs about the War include the time leading up to it, from 1870 onwards, and its results, as well as military, social and political history pertaining to the War years. There are personal diaries and recollections from England, France and Germany; biographies; pacifist writings; some novels; and even drama (John Galworthy, Windows). Many books were published during the War or immediate post-War years, with a complete date range from 1895 to 1938. Most are in English, with some in French (e.g. works by Maurice Barrès) and German (e.g. two issues of Die neue Rundschau, Jan.–Feb. 1916). There are some American imprints. Some items are by prominent literary, scholarly or political figures, such as David Lloyd George, Houston Stewart Chamberlain, Heinrich Mann, and Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson, while other writers are obscure. Some items are academic, others clear propaganda, such as Germany’s Swelled Head (1914). Women wrote a significant minority of the texts, and Playne’s own copies of four of her monographs are present.


For a full overview of the collection, do an author search on “Playne, Caroline E.” as former owner. Most items will also come up via a mixed classmark search on [Playne]. Items with a classmark beginning [Playne] are held off-site and material requires 48 hours (excluding weekends) to be fetched.   

Related materials 

  • Caroline Elizabeth Playne papers (MS1112
  • ‘Playne Collection’, University of London Archive file, UoL/UL/4/18/54