An 1834 etching of Samuel Egerton Brydges by Francis Danby
The Brydges Collection is an extensive group of works published and edited by the British author, literary editor and genealogist Sir Egerton Brydges (1762-1837). The majority of Brydges' output, published in editions of 100 or fewer copies, is now extremely rare. His Lee Priory Press, which began production in 1813, published finely-printed, limited editions of hitherto-neglected writers of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, among them Nicholas Breton, William Browne, Walter Raleigh and Margaret, Countess of Newcastle. His solid bibliographic achievements include the British Bibliographer
(1810-1814) andRestituta; Titles, Extracts and Characters of Old Books in the English Language
. From 1818 until his death Brydges resided on the European mainland, increasingly obsessed with the minutiæ of medieval genealogy (from 1790 to 1803 his elder brother, at his instance, had unsuccessfully attempted to establish claim to the English title Baron Chandos of Sudeley). Brydges, an eccentric, indeed prickly individual, was known to Jane Austen, whose brother James had courted Brydges' younger sister. Austen's strictures on Brydges' 1798 novel Arthur Fitz Albini
, are revealing for what, by extension, they say about her own approach to the novelist's craft: "Never did any book carry more internal evidence of its author. Every sentiment is completely Egerton's. There is very little story, and what there is is told in a strange, unconnected way. There are many characters introduced, apparently merely to be delineated."