New acquisitions in British Literature: 19th century literary periodicals

In 19th century England, periodicals were a popular and cost-effective way for readers to gain access to literary material, whether prose or fiction. Special Collections actively adds new periodicals and serials to the Victorian and other British literary collections. Here are two recent acquisitions featuring the work of major 19th century literary figures:

The Friend : a literary, moral, and political weekly paper, excluding personal and party politics and the events of the day. [Penrith, England]: Printed and published by J. Brown, and sold by Messrs. Longman and Co. … and Clement … London, 1809-1810.

Samuel Coleridge produced a periodical, The Friend, between 1809 and 1810. It contains Coleridge’s essays on a wide range of subjects, from the political to the philosophical, and poetical works by William Wordsworth. L. Tom Perry Special Collections recently acquired a copy of the original issues of The Friend to add to later reprints edited by Coleridge and others later in the 19th century. Note the stamps on the original issues, which were later gathered into a single volume.


The Library of Fiction, or, Family Story-teller: consisting of original tales, essays, and sketches of character. Ed. Charles Whitehead. London: Chapman and Hall, 1836

The library of fiction, or, Family story-teller was a serial publication issued in 16 parts from April 1836-July 1837. It contains short fiction and literary sketches, including two contributions by up-and-coming young writer Charles Dickens. Dickens’s story “The Tuggses at Ramsgate” was the opening story in the publication and is shown here with an illustration by Robert Seymour.

This month in Reformation history: Martin Luther translates the New Testament

Five hundred years ago, during the summer of 1521, Martin Luther sequestered himself at Wartburg castle. While in hiding from secular and Papal authorities who might arrest him on heresy charges, he set to work translating the Bible into vernacular German according to his understanding of scripture.

In Germany, vernacular Bibles based on the Latin Vulgate version had circulated in manuscript for several centuries. The first printed German-language Bible was produced in Strasbourg in 1466. Luther felt these translations and the Vulgate itself were corrupted and that a new translation was needed to correct the errors that had been introduced over the centuries. He began by translating the original Greek text of the New Testament. He turned to the recently published Greek New Testament edited by the well-known Dutch scholar Desiderius Erasmus.

Erasmus had a scholarly interest in editing biblical texts, both of the Vulgate version and of Greek biblical manuscripts which were being rediscovered during the late 15th and early 16th centuries. Erasmus published his edition of the Greek New Testament in Basel, Switzerland in 1516. The Greek text was placed side-by-side with his own Latin translation. A second edition was published in 1519. Luther used this edition to translate the New Testament into German. Erasmus’s version was printed three more times, in 1522, 1527, and 1536. The third edition of 1522 would be used by William Tyndale as he translated the Bible into English. BYU’s copy of the 1522 edition is shown here.

Title page of the 1522 Erasmus New Testament

The Gospel of Luke


Martha Coray notebook

In honor of the 177th anniversary of the martydom of Joseph Smith at Carthage Jail on June 27, 1844, L. Tom Perry Special Collections is pleased to announce the availability of a newly digitized collection: Martha Coray notebook (Vault MSS 230).  Soon after Joseph and Hyrum Smith were killed, a young 23-year-old Martha Coray, later joined by her husband Howard, interviewed Lucy Mack Smith with the goal of publishing a history of Joseph Smith. The project was finished in 1845, and subsequently published in various forms and editions. This history is still available today as History of the Prophet Joseph, by His Mother. This notebook includes Coray’s interview notes used in this project.

Martha Jane Knowlton Coray (1821-1881)

Below is a brief description of the contents of the notebook:

Smith family history notes contain John and Clarissa Smith’s account of visit by Joseph Smith Sr. to Smith family members, including his father, Asael Smith, in Lawrence County, New York, in 1830; John Smith’s account of his and Joseph Smith Sr.’s reunion with their mother, Mary Duty Smith, at Kirtland, Ohio, and their subsequent journey eastward to visit Church branches and family members in 1836; Lucy Mack Smith’s account of Samuel Smith’s presentation of a Book of Mormon to John P. Greene’s family in Ontario County, New York in 1830; and George A. Smith’s account of mission with Don Carlos Smith in 1838. Also includes information about Silas Smith, brother of Joseph Smith Sr. Notebook also includes dictation copies of blessings given to Coray and her husband, Howard Coray; sundry notes pertaining to religious history and writing styles; and a list of students, possibly those attending school taught by the Corays in Nauvoo.

Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Men” turns 150

First American edition, 1871

Louisa spent 1870 traveling Europe with her youngest sister, May, and May’s friend Alice Bartlett. Settling into Rome that winter, Louisa received word that her sister Anna’s husband, John Pratt, had died aged 37 of a sudden illness, leaving behind two young sons. Alcott threw herself into writing a long-promised sequel to Little Women, motivated by a strong desire to provide for her widowed sister and nephews. She completed a draft in a matter of weeks and sent it to her publisher in early 1871.

Little Men finds Alcott’s heroine Jo running a school for boys with her husband, Professor Bhaer. While following the adventures of the young pupils, the book is also suffused with the educational philosophies and practices formulated by Louisa’s father, Amos Bronson Alcott, and by her former tutor, Henry David Thoreau.

First British edition, 1871

Little Men appeared first in London in May 1871, and then in the United States in June. Alcott’s Boston publisher, Roberts Brothers, sold 50,000 copies in advance. Little Men, following the success of the two parts of Little Women and An Old Fashioned Girl, cemented Alcott’s ascent to literary fame and fortune. Louisa was able to assist Anna with purchasing a home in Concord and with providing for her boys.

Ann Prior Jarvis autobiographies and George Jarvis biography

Image found at “The George and Ann Prior Jarvis Family Web Site” (

L. Tom Perry Special Collections is pleased to announce the availability of a newly digitized collection: Ann Prior Jarvis autobiographies and George Jarvis biography (MSS SC 2049). The collection includes two handwritten autobiographies, a biography of George Jarvis (1823-1913), miscellaneous materials, and photocopies of these items. Anne recounts the major events of her life and writes about her spiritual experiences and dreams. Also included are a brief biography of George Jarvis and patriarchal blessings of family members.

George Jarvis was born at Harlow, Essex, England on March 25, 1823. Ann Prior was born at Stepney, Middlesex, London England on December 29, 1829. George Jarvis & Ann Prior were married at a Parish Church at Savior, Southwark, Surrey, England on October 19, 1846. Two years later, George and Ann were baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on December 25, 1848.

On March 28, 1857, George & Ann Jarvis sailed from England to Boston, Massachusetts aboard the ship “George Washington,” arriving at the Boston Harbor on April 20. On June 19, 1860, George, Ann, and their six children left Florence (Omaha), Nebraska on their trek west. They were part of the Jesse Murphy Ox Train Company. They arrived in Salt Lake Valley, Utah Territory, on August 30, 1860.

In October 1861 George volunteered to be among these first pioneers who established St. George, Utah. He and his family arrived in St. George on December 5, 1861. While there, George assisted in the construction of the St. George Temple.

On April 4th, 1878, Mary Webb, a widow, was sealed to George Jarvis as a plural wife in the St. George Temple. In 1902, George Jarvis was ordained a Patriarch in St. George.

George passed away in St. George on January 6, 1913, followed four days later by his wife, Ann. He was 89 and she was 84.

New exhibit: Making the Kelmscott Chaucer

125 years ago this month, William Morris and his compatriots at the Kelmscott Press finally published the book which had occupied them since 1892. The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer Now Newly Imprinted, also known as the “Kelmscott Chaucer,” was the most elaborate – and significant – work issued by the press.

Morris was a lifelong devotee of medieval art and literature, and publishing the complete works of England’s most famous poet of the Middle Ages was a fitting project for him. He owned a successful business designing Gothic-inspired decor and furnishings for homes and churches. Morris founded the Kelmscott Press in 1891 with the goal of producing fine books in the same manner as early European printers, with handmade papers, hand-carved woodblocks, and a hand-operated printing press. Morris designed his own type and enlisted his old friend, Pre-Raphaelite artist Edward Burne-Jones, to illustrate many of the books. The output of the Kelmscott Press continues to inspire artists and designers today. It is an important component of the HBLL’s Modern Fine Press collection because of Morris’s influence on the private press movement in Great Britain and the USA.

This year marks the 130th anniversary of the founding of the Kelmscott Press. The William Morris Society in the United States is organizing an international celebration which culminates on June 26, 2021, the 125th anniversary of the publication of the Kelmscott Chaucer. The HBLL is participating with a small case exhibit, “Making the Kelmscott Chaucer,” on display this month in the Special Collections reading room. A copy of the Chaucer will be featured along with several proof prints created during the printing process.

This month in Reformation history: The Edict of Worms

Edict of Worms, Paris, 1521

The Imperial Diet was divided on what to do about Luther. While some felt he should be condemned, others feared that any action against Luther would lead to rebellion in areas of the Holy Roman Empire which supported him. On May 8, 1521 Emperor Charles took the decisive step of drawing up an edict against Luther. He waited until many of the council members had left Worms to officially sign the edict, officially issuing it on May 25 – five hundred years ago today.

The Edict of Worms detailed Luther’s doctrinal errors and banned his writings. Furthermore, it declared him a heretic and enemy of the state. It was enforced haphazardly throughout the Empire; some sympathetic states and rulers allowed Luther and his followers to travel, preach, and publish.

BYU owns a French language copy of the Edict of Worms printed in Paris. It is one of several editions, Latin or vernacular, issued on behalf of the Emperor in 1521.

Jesse Nathaniel Smith letter

Jesse Nathaniel Smith (1834-1906)

L. Tom Perry Special Collections is pleased to announce the availability of a newly digitized collection: Jesse Nathaniel Smith letter (MSS 6488). This letter was written on March 4, 1861, to Samuel H.B. Smith, the son of Samuel Smith, who was the younger brother of Hyrum and Joseph Smith. In the letter, Jesse describes his life as a missionary in Denmark. He talks about the people he is serving and the type of people who are accepting the gospel he is preaching. The letter is short, but in it Jesse implies that another letter was sent in the envelope, intended for Joseph F. Smith, the son of Mary Fielding and Hyrum Smith. At the time Jesse served his initial mission in Denmark, his cousins (once removed) were serving missions in England. Since they were all engaged in missionary work, the letter shows a deep bond between the cousins. The letter alludes to the fact that the cousins had been writing one another throughout their missions, and that this is just one letter amongst a slew of others.

Jesse Nathaniel Smith (1834-1906) was born to Silas and Mary Aiken Smith in Stockholm, New York. His father died when Jesse was four-years-old and the Smith family was living in Illinois. When the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint migrated from Illinois to Salt Lake City, the teenaged Jesse helped his mother cross the plains. Upon arriving in Utah, Jesse was sent to help settle the town of Parowan. In 1861, Jesse embarked on the Scandinavian Mission for the Latter-day Saint Church. His first assignment was in Denmark. He later served as president of this mission in 1868. Living in Utah, Jesse Smith held multiple civil positions and assisted with Indian Wars. He also helped to settle colonies in Arizona and New Mexico. A practicer of plural marriage, Jesse married five women and had forty-four children. Jesse Smith died in Snowflake, Arizona at the age of seventy-two.

Swallow family letters

First page of The Evening and Morning Star, published in Independence, Missouri, June 1832

L. Tom Perry Special Collections is pleased to announce the availability of a newly digitized collection: Swallow family letters (MSS 7688). Letters written by Asahel and Prudence North, Luthera and Ransom Swallow, on August 23, 1834 from Illinois to their family in Vermont. The letter is addressed to Mr. Nahum Swallow, with an address to Brown’s Ville, Winsdor, Vermont. All four letters are written on a single folded sheet, and include updates about their activities. Also includes references to preaching by Latter-days Saint missionaries and reading the The Evening and Morning StarIt is unclear if any of the Swallow family eventually joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but their letter is a good source for early missionary efforts in the midwest in the early 1830s.

The Swallow family were farmers in Vermont and Illinois. Nahum Swallow (1771-1851) migrated with his wife Deidamia Woods (1778-1858) from Massachusetts to settle in West Windsor, Vermont in 1796. Together they had fifteen children, including Chester, Deidamia, Prudence, Nahum, Nancy, Ransom, Eliza, Gardner, Guy, Mary, Franklin, Olivia, Luthera, John, and Sarah Jane. In 1819, Deidamia married Timothy Ladd and Prudence married Asahel North. They moved with their husbands to Illinois, where they began farming. Other siblings later moved to join them in the West.  

Rare art books and serials digitized

Special Collections recently digitized its holdings of art books and periodicals from the Rare Book and Victorian Collections. They can be found in the BYU collection at the Internet Archive. To search for this content in the Internet Archive, use the subject search facet to limit results to topics like art, artists, painters, or specific genres or media (such as sculpture, pottery, or engraving). Links to digital versions can also be found in individual records in the library catalog.

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