Vann Collection of Victorian Literature

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About the Collection

J. Don and Dolores Vann began collecting Victorian books in 1962, when they acquired a first edition of Dickens’s Bleak House. They spent the summer of 1965 in London, conducting research in the British Library and buying first editions of works by Charles Dickens and William Makepeace Thackeray. During their subsequent trips to London, the Vanns came to know many of the city’s booksellers and were offered first editions they kept hidden from all but their most favorite customers. Many of these books now reside in the Vann Collection of Victorian Literature at UNT.

Special Collections has important holdings in Victorian literature, 19th century British fiction, poetry, and relevant periodicals. Much of the Collection has been donated by UNT Emeritus Professor J. Don Vann and his wife, Dolores. Highlights of the Vann Collection of Victorian Literature include a first edition of A Christmas Carol, the periodical All the Year Round which contains the first serialization of A Tale of Two Cities, and other serialized first editions including Our Mutual Friend, Bleak House, and David Copperfield. Special Collections created The Vann Victorian Collection exhibit to highlight materials in the Collection.

J. Don Vann is a retired University of North Texas Regent’s Professor and Professor Emeritus in English. He received his B.A. and M.A. degrees from TCU and his Ph.D. from Texas Tech, then joined the faculty of UNT in 1964. He taught courses in Victorian literature, particularly Dickens, Tennyson, and Browning. His doctoral dissertation on the critical reception of David Copperfield in London newspapers led him to be a founding member of the Research Society for Victorian Periodicals in which he held various offices

Having been members of the London Dickens Fellowship for many years, Don and Dolores founded the Denton Dickens Fellowship in 1987. The branch received a charter from the international Dickens Fellowship the following year. On two occasions he was given the honor of delivering the eulogy at the annual wreath-laying ceremony at Dickens’s grave in Poet’s Corner, Westminster Abbey.

In 2004 J. Don and Dolores established the Vann Victorian Endowment to provide a permanent fund to purchase Victorian books for the Collection.

Browse the holdings of the Vann Collection of Victorian Literature on the Libraries Catalog.