News Release: Arts and Humanities, University News

Dec. 4,  2008

Emory Lands 'Robinson Crusoe' Rarities

News Article ImageMiriam and Robert Lovett, a 1969 graduate of Emory, and Rick Luce, vice provost and director of Emory Libraries, stand with rare editions of Daniel DeFoe's Robinson Crusoe.

Emory University's Manuscript, Archives and Rare Book Library (MARBL) has received a collection of 699 editions of Daniel Defoe's celebrated novel, "Robinson Crusoe." Donated by Emory alumnus Robert Lovett and his wife, Miriam, the Robert W. and Miriam Lovett Crusoe Collection includes many extremely rare volumes, among them five 18th century editions that are found only in the Lovett collection.

Robert Lovett spent much of his career acquiring rare and unique copies of the famed literary work, which has been considered by many as the first novel written in English. Among the volumes in the Lovett Collection is a rare first edition published in London in 1719. The Lovett Collection is among the more significant collections of Robinson Crusoe volumes in the United States.

"Robinson Crusoe has inspired plays, operas, a children's book, and served as a moralistic mantra for 19th century empire builders," says Lovett, a 1969 graduate of Emory's Graduate School. Lovett co-authored a definitive Crusoe bibliography with his son and fellow rare book collector, Charles Candler Lovett. The volume identifies 1,198 editions, variants of editions, pirated editions, abridgements, abridgements designed for children, reissues and free adaptations of Defoe's groundbreaking work.

"We are deeply grateful to Bob and Miriam Lovett for their generosity," says Rick Luce, vice provost of Emory University and director of Emory Libraries. "The Robert W. and Miriam Lovett Crusoe Collection is an extraordinary resource for scholars from across the disciplines and will further MARBL's mission to bring together rare and unique collections to stimulate conversations that will transform the world." 

Lovett's chose to donate the collection to Emory because he wanted it to be "in a first-class research library where it will be used," he says. MARBL is one of the nation's fastest-growing humanities research libraries.

"This collection will be used by students of history, the history of the book and art history as well as English literature," says David Faulds, a cataloguer with MARBL. "Single book collections are very useful. Obviously the text doesn't change a whole lot, but the illustrations and bindings—and the audience—do."

Noted 18th-century literature specialist and University of Virginia faculty member J. Paul Hunter spoke on "The Young and the Restless: Robinson Crusoe and Daniel Defoe" on Nov. 20 at Emory's Miller-Ward Alumni House to celebrate the gift of the collection. A former professor of English at Emory College, Hunter also is a professor emeritus at Wake Forest University. Lovett was Hunter's second Ph.D. student.

The gift to MARBL is part of the private support being sought for Campaign Emory, a $1.6 billion fundraising endeavor that combines private support and the University's people, places and programs to make a powerful contribution to the world. The campaign is expected to transform every school and unit of the university. Investments in the campaign fuel efforts to address fundamental challenges:  improving health, gaining ground in science and technology, resolving conflict, harnessing the power of the arts, and educating the heart and mind.

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