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Senate House Library

Walter de la Mare Library

The Collection 

Subject: English literature

The Walter de la Mare Library is in two parts: 

  1. Walter de la Mare’s working library.
  2. The de la Mare Family Archive of Walter de la Mare’s Printed Oeuvre.  

The working library comprises almost 700 items owned and used by the writer and poet Walter de la Mare (1873-1956) (see ODNB). Editions date largely from de la Mare’s lifetime. They include a great deal of poetry, from the Renaissance to de la Mare’s own time, as well as other literature and literary criticism. Further subjects include the English language, natural history (especially bird books), history and travel. About 300 books bear de la Mare’s annotations, mostly before 1910. Several books are gifts from friends, family members, and other writers: notably de la Mare’s friend and fellow poet Edward Thomas (1878-1917), but also Edmund Gosse, William Henry Davies, Henry Montagu Butler and others. The University acquired the working library in 2005 through the good offices of Giles de la Mare, the writer’s grandson, and the generosity of the Friends of Senate House Library. Fifty items came to supplement it in 2011. 

De la Mare’s oldest son Richard (1901-1986), a founding director of the publishing firm Faber and Faber (which published much of de la Mare’s work) brought together the bulk of the 420-odd titles in the family archive. This part of the collection comprises chiefly editions of de la Mare’s work in various editions and issues: most notably 29 copies of the children’s poetry book Peacock Pie, all different, with multiple illustrators. Anthologies to which de la Mare contributed and translations of his works into Russian, Finnish and Chinese as well as common European languages show the international extent of de la Mare’s popular appeal. De la Mare or his son Richard marked up several items for new editions. De la Mare inscribed others – sometimes at length – to various members of his family, especially his wife Elfrida and son Richard. Most books retain their dust wrappers 

The literary trustees of Walter de la Mare donated the family archive in 2009. Senate House Library has since acquired extra editions of de la Mare’s works for other sections of the library to complement the collection. Purchases and donations from Patricia Gilbert have been added to the De la Mare collection itself (classmarks T.427 onwards), with the provenance clearly marked in the catalogue records.


For an overview of the collection,  do a mixed classmark search on [WdlM] for the entire collection, or [WdlM] T for the family archive. The presence of dustwrappers on books in the family archive is stated explicitly in the descriptions. The collection is held off-site and material requires 48 hours (excluding weekends) to be fetched. 

Related materials 

Further reading 

  • Attar, K. E., ‘Modern Special Collections Cataloguing: A University of London Case Study’, Journal of Librarianship and Information Science, 45 (2013), 168-76. About the family archive. 
  • De la Mare, Giles, ‘The Walter de la Mare Library’, Walter de la Mare Society Magazine, 11 (2008), 3-47. Description and catalogue of the working library. 
  • De la Mare, Giles, ‘The Walter de la Mare Working Library: 2011 Addendum’, Walter de la Mare Society Magazine, 15 (2013), 38-43. 
  • Entry 51 in Senate House Library, University of London, ed. by Christopher Pressler and Karen Attar (London: Scala, 2012)