The Beinecke’s early modern British and European collections contain materials in print and manuscript from 1500 to 1800. Ranging from recent additions to European works held in the eighteenth-century library of Yale College, the collections are of always surprising range and depth. Particular strengths in the early modern British collections include works in manuscript and print relating to the literary circle of Samuel Johnson, Hester Thrale Piozzi, and James Boswell. The Beinecke holds the papers of James Boswell which, with the archive from the fifteenth through the nineteenth century of the Boswell family, represent a significant resource for the study of early modern British literary and social history. Several important British manuscripts are also held in the general early modern collections, including William Camden’s commonplace book and a letter from Robert Hooke to Isaac Newton, among others. The collections of early modern British pamphlets, newspapers, broadsides, and printed ephemera augment the manuscript holdings of the Beinecke’s Osborn Collection.
Several collections are of particular note in the Beinecke’s early modern European holdings. These include the Spinelli Collection, the archive from the fifteenth through the eighteenth century of the Spinelli family, merchants and financiers in early modern Florence. The Beinecke’s holdings for the French dramatist Molière are among the world’s most complete, as are recently acquired collections of Italian commedia dell’arte and of the works of the composer Monteverdi. With a recently acquired collection of Italian festival books from the sixteenth through the eighteenth century, the Beinecke has significant holdings for the study of early modern European theatre, performing arts, and the study of court and public culture.