The Ewelme Collection of Robert Bridges
formed by Simon Nowell-Smith
Robert Seymour Bridges (1844-1930), poet, prosodist, anthologist, and typographer, was among the most influential literary figures of the early twentieth century. In addition to his own poetry (notably, The Testament of Beauty, 1929), he is now remembered as the longtime correspondent and eventual editor of his contemporary Gerard Manley Hopkins. Bridges was Poet Laureate from 1913 until his death.
The Ewelme Collection of Robert Bridges was formed by the British book collector and bibliographer Simon Nowell-Smith (born 1909). (The collection is named for a small village outside Oxford where the collector lived for a time.) Nowell-Smith started collecting as a schoolboy and formed the Bridges collection over a period of some twenty-five years. By the time of his 1965 retrospect for the series "Contemporary Collectors" (Book Collector 14.2 [summer 1965]: 185-93) he could report that the gaps in his Bridges collection could be counted without using all the fingers of one hand. The greater part of the Bridges collection, only one strand in a superb personal library that also included Henry James and nineteenth-century poetry, was acquired by the University of South Carolina in 1966. A printed catalogue of the collection by William S. Kable was published the following year as part of the University of South Carolina English Department's "Bibliographical Series" (no. 2, Columbia, SC, 1967).
The collection comprises well over 200 items. The 129 separate publications by Bridges himself start with his first book, Poems(London: Pickering, 1873), and include many items published in small editions from the Daniel Press. The 24 books edited by Bridges include hisYattendon Hymnal (1899), one of the works that revived the seventeenth-century Fell types. The collection includes letters, proofs, insribed and corrected copies, and transcriptions of poetic manuscripts made by Lionel Muirhead. Related material includes a group of works about Bridges and a selection of works by friends from the Bridges circle.