Presenting John KeatsInitially in selecting the exhibition title, “Presenting John Keats,” the metaphor of presentation and reception, though apt, applied solely to the Library’s acquisition of its six millionth volume, and to the Hanes Family’s presentation of the Keats Collection to the Rare Book Collection on this occasion. But as the collection was unpacked and exhibition planning unfolded, it became clear that we had serendipitously selected a metaphor that would not only encompass the value of this collection of Keats editions but would also aid in explaining why it was an important acquisition here at the University of North Carolina. Just last year, the Rare Book Collection exhibited selections from its Romantic holdings in an exhibition, “A Being More Intense: British Romantics in the Rare Book Collection,” curated by Charles B. McNamara and Sarah Fass. This exhibition provided an overview of the Romantic era, calling special attention to our remarkable holdings of literature and history, and highlighting the William Wordsworth Collection, the Lord Byron Collection, and the William Henry Hoyt Collection of French Napoleonic History. Because of the depth and breadth of these collections, any exhibition can offer only a minute glimpse of the spectrum of materials awaiting discovery. Ongoing interest in the greater, and lesser, writers of the Romantic period suggested that extending the scope of collections in this area was not only desirable but imperative. When the opportunity came to acquire the John Keats collection, it seemed a fortuitous circumstance that another significant Romantics collection should mark our six millionth volume.
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