Colbeck Collection exhibition: An Unmatched Devotion

Yeats Tower ImageRare Books and Special Collections at UBC Library is delighted to announce a new exhibition: “An Unmatched Devotion”: A 50th Anniversary Exhibition for UBC’s Norman Colbeck Collection of Nineteenth-Century and Edwardian Poetry and Belles Lettres.

2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the University of British Columbia Library’s acquisition of the Norman Colbeck Collection of Nineteenth Century and Edwardian Poetry and Belles Lettres. The Colbeck Collection, which comprises some 13,000 rare and often unique volumes – in addition to literary manuscripts and letters – is one of the world’s most comprehensive collections of Victorian and Edwardian English and Anglo-Irish literature. The catalogue of the collection, A Bookman’s Catalogue, issued by UBC Press in 1987, remains a vital work of reference for scholars, collectors, and members of the book trade. To celebrate this indispensable research and teaching asset, UBC Library, in conjunction with the Department of English, invites you to explore some of these remarkable treasures.

Kelmscott Prospectus Image

The exhibition, curated by Assistant Professor of English, Dr. Gregory Mackie, is divided into several thematic areas representing the particular strengths of the collection: Poetry; the Pre-Raphaelites; Aestheticism and Decadence; the revival of printing and fine press publications; literary and artistic little magazines; Belles Lettres; and inscribed and association copies. We are also taking this opportunity to display recent acquisitions that complement the Colbeck Collection with a view to future teaching and research. The exhibition further provides an opportunity to display UBC’s recently acquired copy of the 1896 Kelmscott Press Works of Geoffrey Chaucer (“the most beautiful of all printed books,” according to poet W. B. Yeats) in its broader cultural and historical context. It is our hope that the exhibition will be both engaging and enlightening for students, scholars, and the wider community.

An Unmatched Devotion is on display at UBC Library’s Irving K. Barber Learning Centre from October 23 through December 20, 2017. The exhibition is located on the second floor Community Concourse and on the first floor in the Rare Books and Special Collections reading room. The RBSC reading room is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays from 12-5 p.m. For IKBLC’s general hours, check their website ( The exhibition is free and open to the public. For more information, please contact Rare Books and Special Collections at (604) 822-2521 or