The literature collection includes Russian and Soviet fiction,
poetry, drama, folklore and literary criticism from the 18th century
to the present. The bulk of the collection is held in the loan
collection and is of interest to general readers (see benefits
of membership). Some rare copies
are held in the archive.
The collection holds over 11,000 volumes, of which around 1,000
are in English. It covers the Russian classics, the greatest writers
of the Soviet period and contemporary popular fiction. The full
range of 19th-century classics is covered, including Pushkin,
Lermontov, Gogol, Turgenev, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky and Chekhov. The
Soviet collection includes, among others, Babel, Mayakovsky, Yesenin,
Gorky, Platonov, Bulgakov, Ilf and Petrov, Sholokhov, Akhmatova,
Tsvetaeva, Pasternak, Solzhenitsyn, Trifonov and Rybakov. Some
Russian émigré writers are also represented, including
Nabokov and Brodsky.
There is an extensive collection of foreign literature translated
into Russian and other languages of the former Soviet Union, in
particular British and American writers such as Charles Dickens,
Charlotte Bronte, Agatha Christie, Jack London and Mark Twain.
There is also a good selection of literature from the other republics
of the former Soviet Union.
The collection also includes English translations of Russian
and Soviet literature, and a range of literary criticism and literary
history. The book collection is supplemented by a number of vinyl
recordings of Soviet poets reading their own work, including Akhmatova
The children's literature collection is unique in the United
Kingdom. It provides an unbroken history of Russian children's
literature from the Soviet period through to the present day.
It is of particular interest to specialists in Soviet children's
In particular, the collection contains many treasures dating
from the creativity of the early stages of the Soviet period.
Children's literature was always regarded highly in the Soviet
Union and many of its greatest writers, translators and illustrators
were encouraged to participate in the development of a socialist
children's literature. The collection includes stories, poems
and information books written by such authors as Mayakovsky, Gaidar,
Alexei Tolstoy, Chukovsky, Marshak and M Il'in, with illustrations
by Lebedev, Annenkov, Charushin and a host of others. The quality
of the artwork and book production is outstanding, often reflecting
the latest developments in Soviet art and culture.
The collection holds some 800 titles which are predominantly
in Russian. It is supplemented by reference titles and journals
relating to the study of children's literature and education.
The Cicely Osmond Collection in
the photo library also provides a rich visual resource on Soviet
education in the 1920s-70s.