Olin Library Houses 900 Volumes of King Arthur Material

Olin Library welcomes one of the country’s largest King Arthur collections to Wesleyan’s Special Collections and Archives department.

The Nathan Comfort Starr Collection of Arthuriana is one of Wesleyan’s great hidden treasures. It comprises of more than 900 volumes related to the legends of King Arthur and the knights of the Round Table.

The Friends of the Wesleyan Library funded a three-month, full-time librarian to catalog the collection. Rare book cataloger Samantha Klein began the task in January 2010, and finished in March.

The collection was the 1981 bequest of Nathan Comfort Starr, a Harvard- and Oxford-educated English professor who specialized in modern British and American retellings of the Arthurian legends. Starr was the author of King Arthur Today: the Arthurian Legend in English and American Literature, 1901-1953 (Gainesville: University of Florida  Press, 1954).

Not surprisingly, the Starr Collection is especially rich in modern literature, but it also includes a wide range of earlier materials and ephemera. The Starr Collection has been  presented many times to classes taught by Jeff Rider in Romance Languages, as well as others.  The collection was the focus of exhibitions at the Grolier Club in 1972 and at Wesleyan in 2003.

Pictured below are samples of the Starr Collection, which is available for viewing by contacting Special Collections and Archives at Olin Library.