Oliver Twist — An Affordable Edition

by Daniel Johnson, English; Digital Humanities; and Film, Television, and Theatre Librarian

The Household Edition of Charles Dickens was a new, quarto-sized version of the novelist’s works published by Chapman and Hall starting in 1871, after the author’s death, answering “calls for a truly popular and affordable edition of Dickens that were being voiced even before Dickens’s death” (Louttit 2014, 323). Like the novels in their original run, the Household Editions were printed both serially (either weekly or monthly) and as whole volumes. The whole-volume printings were themselves subject to “two methods of volume release: the distinctive green cloth and gilt boards (which adorn many of the volumes in circulation today) at 4s., and a cheaper ‘stiff paper wrapper’ priced at 3s” (2014, 326).

The history of the Hesburgh Library’s recently-acquired volume is not clear, but if it was originally purchased in whole volume form, it is a curious one — it does not bear “distinctive green cloth and gilt boards,” and for good reason. It is a Sammelband, seamlessly binding the Household Dickens Great Expectations together with Oliver Twist. The other method of whole volume distribution, via “stiff paper wrapper,” means the book would have come with no cover, making it cheaper to purchase but also enabling the book owner to order custom book binding. In either case, whether obtained serially in parts or as whole volumes, the book was bound by custom order, as can be further confirmed by the stamp on the back cover, “Bound by W. Drewett, Printer, Binder, Stationer.” Why a person might join together two Dickens novels with no apparent contiguity (Oliver Twist was the first book in the Household Editions, Great Expectations in the middle, and the novels were originally published decades apart) would be a worthy subject of exploration.

Title page, with frontispiece: “The evidence destroyed”.
The first page of Chapter 1, headed with an illustration of Oliver asking for more, while the boys around the table lick their fingers, their spoons, or their empty bowls.

In more general terms, collecting witnesses of the Household Edition can help scholars make comparative analysis against the volumes printed during the author’s lifetime (such as the handsome, two-volume first edition of Our Mutual Friend which the library purchased in 2016). Indeed, the Household Edition is receiving renewed attention, particularly for its visual content. By the late twentieth century, it had become commonplace to read Dickens as inextricable from his original illustrators – George Cruikshank, Hablot Knight Browne, and Phiz – which is logical enough. Many period readers would have closely tied the novels to the caricature-like images of these artists.

But approbation was not universal. As Chris Louttit shows, many who wrote on Dickens in the late nineteenth century “preferred instead the more realistic and less emblematic productions of the generation of artists including Fred Barnard, Charles Green and James Mahoney” who adorned the Household Edition (Mahoney was illustrator of the Household Oliver Twist) (2019, 150). Indeed, one Victorian critic, Edwin Pugh, claimed the original illustrations “are as unlike the creations of the Master’s brain as a painted, stuffed wax effigy is unlike the warm, breathing body of a beautiful woman or man” (ibid). Much could be made about the reading of the text based on the visual commentary available to readers at a given period.

The Household Edition of Oliver Twist (and Great Expectations) joins over a hundred other Dickensian special collections holdings of various kinds in the Hesburgh Library, including a Cruikshank-illustrated first edition of Oliver Twist, with a fireside plate “canceled in later issues.”

Title page and frontispiece of Great Expectations ‘with thirty illustrations by F. A. Fraser.
Sources consulted:

Louttit, Chris. 2014. “‘A Favour on the Million’: The Household Edition, the Cheap Reprint, and the Posthumous Illustration and Reception of Charles Dickens.” Book History 17 (1): 321-64. http://doi.org/10.1353/bh.2014.0013

—–. 2019. “Boz without Phiz.” In Reading Dickens Differently, 149-64. John Wiley. https://doi.org/10.1002/9781119602262.ch8.

Upcoming Events: February and early March

Please join us for the following event being hosted in Rare Books and Special Collections:

Wednesday, February 9 at 2:00pm – 5:00pm | Celebration: 100 Years of James Joyce’s Ulysses.

The semester-long Ulysses exhibition will be supplemented by a temporary ‘pop-up’ display of books and art. Visitors are welcome to come during any part of the afternoon. At 3:30, there will be a short talk titled “Joyce, Proust, Paris, 1922” by Professor Barry McCrea.

Registration is encouraged but not required. Read more and register


The spring exhibit The Word throughout Time: The Bible in the Middle Ages and Beyond is now open and will run through June. This exhibit, curated by David T. Gura (Curator of Ancient and Medieval Manuscripts), marks the 75th anniversary of the University of Notre Dame’s Medieval Institute. Tours are available for classes or other groups, including K-12 audiences, by request.

The current spotlight exhibits both feature materials relating to the centenary of James Joyce’s Ulysses: 100 Years of James Joyce’s Ulysses (January – April 2022) and David Lilburn’s Eccles Street Print (January – February 2022).

All exhibits are free and open to the public during business hours.

The Word throughout Time: The Bible in the Middle Ages and Beyond

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the University of Notre Dame’s Medieval Institute. The current exhibit is constituted in celebration of this anniversary and brings some of the University’s finest medieval manuscripts and early imprints to the fore, drawn from the Hesburgh Library, Snite Museum of Art, and the McGrath Institute for Church Life.

The Word throughout Time: The Bible in the Middle Ages and Beyond features Bibles and Biblical texts from the 12th through 21st century, including numerous illuminated Bibles from Italy, France, England, and Bohemia, a leaf from the Gutenberg Bible, chant manuscripts, and the Saint John’s Bible. The exhibit seeks to show the varying contexts of the medieval Bible as well as its early modern successors: in the schools through interpretation and commentary, in public through the liturgy and preaching, in private through prayer and devotion.

Cod. Lat. a. 2, folios 139v and 140r

This exhibit is curated by Dr. David T. Gura (Curator of Ancient and Medieval Manuscripts). This and other exhibits within the library are generously supported by the McBrien Special Collections Endowment.

The Word throughout Time: The Bible in the Middle Ages and Beyond is on view from January – June 2022 in Rare Books & Special Collections. Contact Dr. David T. Gura to schedule tours and class visits.

Ulysses 100 at Hesburgh Libraries

by Aedín Ní Bhróithe Clements, Irish Studies Librarian

At Hesburgh Libraries, along with the Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies, we look forward to participating in the worldwide celebration on February 2nd of the one hundredth anniversary of James Joyce’s Ulysses.

The very first copies of the first edition of Ulysses were received from the printer on Joyce’s fortieth birthday, February 2nd, 1922. Sylvia Beach, the publisher, delivered a copy to James Joyce on that day. 

Of the thousand copies printed in that first edition, almost one hundred are currently in U.S. libraries. Our copy will be on display in our exhibition room throughout the semester.

Parts of Joyce’s novel had earlier been published serially in America in The Little Review, a magazine edited by Margaret Anderson and Jane Heap. This came to the attention of the Society for the Suppression of Vice, and eventually the magazine had to cease publication of the novel and it was banned by the United States Post Office.

Joyce subsequently had difficulty finding a publisher, and Sylvia Beach, owner of Paris bookshop and lending library Shakespeare and Company, agreed to publish the book. Every detail along the way, from finding typists who would agree to type the text through distributing (sometimes smuggling) the book to readers, forms an interesting story. Much of the story is recounted in Noel Riley Fitch’s book, Sylvia Beach and the Lost Generation (1983).

Another great champion of Joyce’s writing was publisher Harriet Weaver, whose Egoist Press in England published a number of his works. Her edition of Ulysses was also published in 1922 and our copy is on display. 

Also in the display case is a magazine in which unauthorized episodes were published, alongside a printed copy of the protest, signed by 167 artists and writers, against this piracy.

In a separate case, we will exhibit a print by the late Irish artist David Lilburn – Eccles Street, from In Medias Res: The Ulysses Maps: A Dublin Odyssey. This print will be available for viewing through the month of February.

The Celebration

On Joyce’s 140th birthday, we will host a special event in the Hesburgh Library, with the Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies.

Professor Barry McCrea will speak on ‘Joyce, Proust, Paris, 1922’, and the launch of the ‘100 Years of James Joyce’s Ulysses‘ exhibit will be complemented by a one-afternoon temporary display.

Further information on this event is available here: https://irishstudies.nd.edu/events/2022/02/02/celebration-100-years-of-james-joyces-ulysses/

Seventeenth Century Dominicans Supporting the Doctrine of the Immaculate Conception

by Alan Krieger, Theology and Philosophy Librarian

The Hesburgh Libraries has just acquired a rare, early modern compilation of works by four authors from the Dominican Order supporting what was then the still controversial doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, which holds that the Virgin Mary was free of original sin from the moment of her conception. This doctrine was not elevated to the status of dogma until 1854, when Pope Pius IX issued his bull, Ineffabilis Deus.

The volume, Monumenta dominicana: ex quatuor auctoribus Sacri Ordinis Praedicatorum qui pro Immaculata Virg. Conceptione ex professo scripserunt (Lovanii, 1666), was compiled by Pedro de Alva y Astorga and features the earliest appearance in print of Tommaso Campanella’s De Immaculata Conceptione. Campanella (1568-1639), a philosopher, theologian and poet, was known as a strong supporter of Galileo during the latter’s first trial; Campanella’s astrological speculations and opposition to the authority of Aristotle led to his prosecution by the Roman Inquisition in 1594. He was confined to a convent until 1597.

Other writers in this compendium include Ambrogio Caterino Politi (1487-1553); Vincenzo Giustiniano Antist (d. 1599), and three sermons by Guillaume Pepin (d. 1533). Interestingly, the Dominicans (including Thomas Aquinas) had mostly opposed the doctrine during the Middle Ages, but by 1431 the Council of Basel declared Mary’s Immaculate Conception “a pious opinion” consistent with faith and Scripture and in the 16th century, the Council of Trent—while not making a definitive pronouncement on the subject—exempted her from the universality of original sin.

We have found only one other North American holding of this title.

Welcome to Spring 2022 in Rare Books & Special Collections

The University of Notre Dame, Hesburgh Libraries, Special Collections, and the COVID situation

Due to the spread of highly contagious variants of the COVID-19 virus, masks are currently required throughout the Hesburgh Library for all students, faculty, staff, and visitors, regardless of vaccination status. This applies to all Rare Books & Special Collections spaces.

All visitors to campus are required to wear masks inside campus buildings at all times until further notice. Up-to-date information regarding campus policies is provided at covid.nd.edu.

Upcoming Events: January and early February

Please join us for the following event being hosted in Rare Books and Special Collections:

Thursday, January 27 at 4:30pm | Italian Research Seminar: “Scales of Responsibility: The Dark Side of Italo Calvino” by Maria Anna Mariani (University of Chicago). Sponsored by the Center for Italian Studies.

[The event scheduled for February 2 has been postponed, due to weather concerns.]

Wednesday, February 2, from 3:30 pm to 5:00 pm | Celebration: 100 Years of James Joyce’s Ulysses: An event celebrating the centenary of James Joyce’s Ulysses will be hosted in Special Collections, with a display of Ulysses-themed treasures from the vault of the Hesburgh Library and the reading of short excerpts from Ulysses in several languages.

Spring Semester Exhibits

The spring exhibit will feature Medieval Bibles and biblical texts and is in celebration of the 75th anniversary of Notre Dame’s Medieval Institute. The exhibit, curated by David T. Gura, Ph.D., will open in January and run through the semester.

The spotlight exhibits for January and February will feature first editions of Joyce’s Ulysses and related items, in honor of the centenary of Ulysses publication.

Classes in Special Collections

Throughout the semester, curators teach sessions related to our holdings. If you’re interested in bringing your class or group to work with our curators and materials, please contact Special Collections.

Recent Acquisitions

Special Collections acquires new material throughout the year. Watch our blog for announcements about recent acquisitions.

Happy Holidays from Special Collections!

Rare Books and Special Collections is open through this Wednesday (December 22, 2021). After that, we will be closed for the Christmas and New Year’s Break (December 23, 2021 through January 4, 2022). Special Collections will reopen on Tuesday, January 5, 2022.

This is the last blog post for 2021.
Happy holidays to you and yours from
Notre Dame’s Rare Books and Special Collections!


The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore, with illustrations by Philip Hagreen
(London: Selwyn & Blount, 1923).
Special Collections, Rare Books Small PS 2429 .M5 N5 1923

A Seventeenth Century Look at Christians in the Middle East

by Alan Krieger, Theology and Philosophy Librarian

Hesburgh Libraries has just acquired a rare early modern title on the Christians of the Middle East, La Turquie cretienne, sous la puissante protection de Louis le Grand, protecteur unique de cristianisme en Orient (Paris, 1695), by “M. de La Croix”, secretary to the French embassy in Constantinople.

The first three parts of the work examine the churches of the Greeks, the Armenians, and the Maronites. The fourth part includes several accounts of various contemporary events, such as the martyrdom of a Greek boy named Nicholas in Constantinople and the story of a French-sponsored seminary and college built for the education of Oriental Christians.

This book provides a fascinating look into the lives of Middle Eastern Christians living under the rule of the Ottoman Empire in the seventeenth century. We have identified only five other North American library holdings of this work.

Upcoming Events: December and early January

There are no events scheduled to be hosted in Rare Books and Special Collections in December 2021 or early January 2022.

Rare Books and Special Collections will remain open for our regular hours during Reading Days and Exams (Monday through Friday, 9:30am to 4:30pm). We welcome those looking for a quiet place to study.

The fall exhibit “Bound up with love…” The extraordinary legacy of Father John Zahm’s Dante Collection is now open and will run through the end of the semester. Public tours of the exhibit are offered every Wednesday at 12:15pm. Tours are also available for classes or other groups, including K-12 audiences, by request. No registration required and tours are free and open to the public.

The current spotlight exhibits are The Ferrell Manuscripts (August – December 2021) and A Limited Edition Photo Album of the Sistine Chapel (August – December 2021).


RBSC will be closed during Notre Dame’s Christmas & New Year’s Break,
December 23, 2021 – January 3, 2022.

We will resume regular hours
(Monday – Friday, 9:30am – 4:30pm)
on Tuesday, January 4, 2022.

Color Our Collections: Images from the Current Exhibit

Today’s coloring sheets come from our current exhibit, “Bound up with love…”: The extraordinary legacy of Father John Zahm’s Dante Collection. 2021 marks the 700th anniversary of the death of Dante Alighieri, recognized by Special Collections in this exhibit showcasing the preeminent Dante collection held by the University of Notre Dame and begun by Rev. John A. Zahm, CSC. The exhibit is curated by Tracy Bergstrom (Curator, Italian Studies and Dante Collection), Chiara Sbordoni (Adjunct Professor in Italian, Rome Global Gateway), and Demetrio Yocum (Senior Research Associate, Center for Italian Studies).

The exhibit is open to the public through December 17, 2021.