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The library of Sir Steven Runciman

The Library is pleased to announce that the project to catalogue the library of the late Sir Steven Runciman has been successfully completed. Sir Steven, historian of the Crusades and specialist in Byzantine history, died in 2000, and bequeathed his important collection of books relating to Near and Middle East art, architecture, history and travel to the University. About 4,000 volumes have now been put into stock, and catalogue records for them added to SAULCAT.

The collection reflects the diversity of Runciman's research interests. The main subject areas are the Byzantine Empire (history, literature and art), Balkan history and art, and the Crusades. There is an interesting collection of early travel literature relating to the Middle East and the Balkans. Other subjects include the Greek Orthodox Church, medieval art and architecture, and magic. As an art collector he also had a large selection of modern exhibition catalogues. Friends and colleagues presented him with books and copies of articles on a wide range of subjects not always related to his research, such as Frisian poetry and Elizabethan martyrs.

The collection also reflects Runciman's wide linguistic abilities: only around half is written in English, with French, Greek, Bulgarian, Latin and German being the main other source languages, and there are materials in a wide variety of other languages from Italian and Romanian to Armenian and Arabic. Also included are a number of Runciman's own works in translation, and some periodicals relating to Byzantine and Balkan studies. While about 85% of the collection was published in the twentieth century there are a number of important early works, the earliest, the Epistolae magni Turci, printed in Rome by Stephan Plannck, being dated 1483. This is purportedly a translation of letters of Mehmet II, Sultan of Turkey, but is actually written by Laudivio de Vezzano. The collection also includes the first edition of Sir William Hamilton's magnificently illustrated Campi Phlegraei. Observations on the volcanos of the two Sicilies as they have been communicated to the Royal Society of London (1776-1779), which includes an account of the great eruption of Mount Vesuvius in August 1779.

The collection has been catalogued to a high standard, with subject headings and provenance information as appropriate. The pre-1800 titles have index information about printers and publishers, and place of printing, and all records have an entry for Sir Steven himself, as former owner, allowing researchers to identify immediately all the books in the collection which belonged to him. The Library is grateful to the Pilgrim Trust for their support in carrying out this work.