The National Library has considerable strength in English poetry of the mid- and late nineteenth century, holding many editions of the works of such poets as Matthew Arnold, Robert Browning, Alfred Tennyson, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Algernon Swinburne and Thomas Hardy. It has also sought to acquire works of lesser-known poets, some of whom were very popular in their day.
The collection of Victorian minor verse was purchased from the English antiquarian bookseller Chris Kohler in 1979.
The collection comprises about 500 titles by minor and obscure British poets of the nineteenth century. While most of the works were published during the reign of Queen Victoria, there are some earlier imprints extending back to 1801. Most of the works were written by single authors, but there are also a few anthologies. The publishers included long-established firms such as John Murray, William Blackwood and Sons, Longmans, Green, and Smith, Elder & Co. Some works were privately printed and expressly issued for private circulation.
Among the better-known writers represented in the collection are Alfred Austin, Arthur Benson, Wilfrid Scawen Blunt, Thomas Campbell, Hartley Coleridge, Austin Dobson, Arthur Conan Doyle, Richard Garnett, Edmund Gosse, James Hogg, W.E.H. Lecky, Richard Monckton Milnes (Lord Houghton), John Henry Newman, Caroline Norton, Francis Turner Palgrave, Coventry Patmore, Arthur Quiller-Couch and Samuel Rogers. Some of the more prolific writers include Edwin Arnold, Robert Buchanan, Aubrey De Vere, Norman Gale, Alfred Hayes, Thomas Moore, Walter C. Smith, Henry Taylor and William Watson.
A few of the titles point to the diversity of the verse, from deeply religious or pastoral to dramatic and satirical:
Evening strains and parlour pastimes
The gossiping tongue, and other salutary satires
The splendid village: corn law rhymes
Proverbs in porcelain, and other verses
Silver store; collected from mediaeval Christian & Jewish mines
Ned Farmer's scrap book : being a selection of poems, songs, scraps, etc.
The collection contains anthologies such as:
Brasenose ale: a collection of verses annually presented on Shrove Tuesday, by the Butler of Brasenose College, Oxford, 1878
Oxford prize poems: being a collection of such English poems as have at various times obtained prizes at the University of Oxford, 1826
The wiccamical chaplet, edited by George Huddesford, 1804
The collection of minor Victorian verse has been kept together within the New Series (NS) pool at the Hume Annexe. The works are being catalogued individually and the call numbers have the prefix NS. A bound volume containing the accession slips for all the books is available.