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Albanian Collections

This page provides an overview of the Albanian Collections, illustrated by specific examples. We acquire material across the spectrum of the humanities and social sciences


Portrait of Scanderbeg

Portrait of Scanderbeg, reproduced from Marinus Barletius,Historia de vita et gestis Scanderbegi, Epirotarum principis, etc, (Rome, [1520?]) 148.h.3 and G.1452]. Copyright © The British Library Board


In the following text, codes which appear in brackets after references ([1201.b.2]) indicate British Library shelfmarks.

The exact size of the Albanian holdings is not known, since, like other country/language holdings, they have no separate catalogue and are dispersed within the rest of the collections.

The Library's holdings of early Albanian literature include some 16th-century works printed in the Latin alphabet. Also well represented are the works of the Albanian humanists and scholars from that period, including Marinus Barletius's Historia de vita et gestis Scanderbegi, Epirotarum principis, etc (Rome, [1520?]) [148.h.3 and G.1452] and Historia del magnanimo, et valoroso Signor Castrioto, detto Scanderbego (Venetia, 1580) [1201.b.2].

In the 17th century, under Ottoman rule, a large number of writers emerged in Albania, notably Don P. Budi who wrote Dottrina christiana... tradote in lingua albanee dal Reuer (1636) [845.a.21 and 3505.d.46]. The first dictionary was published during this period; Dictionarium latino epiroticum vna cum nonnullis vsitatioribus loquendi formulis (Romae, 1635) [628.a.28 and G.16845]. Also contained within the collections are many examples of authors such as Franciscus Blanchus, Pjeter Bogdani.

Important figures in the 19th century were the architect of Albanian literature, Jeronim de Rada, who wrote Rapsodie d'un poema albanese... (1866) [11586.c.39], and Naim Frasheri, widely considered the true founder of Albanian "National literature", whose masterpiece is George Kastioti-Scanderbeg (Tirana, 1962) [X.700/12694].

In the second half of the 20th century, despite poor exchange relations with Albanian libraries and academies, the British Library has obtained a good collection of Albanian Socialist Realist literature. The literature which came out in Albania in the 1950s and 1960s was particularly didactic and moralising, and produced few serious works. The most noteworthy author of that period is Ismail Kadare, who wrote Poemi e poesie scelte (Tirana, 1968) [X.908/16615] and General of the dead army (translated from French) (London, 1971) [YC.1986.a.6725].

In spite of the past difficulties, however, coverage of Albanian material in the humanities and social sciences is good. Since the 1990s, the British Library has established new and good relations with the Albanian National Library and the Academy of Sciences, and as a result, the acquisition of Albanian publications has been enhanced. Special attention was paid to the acquisition of material charting political developments during the time of transition in Central and Eastern Europe and the Balkans.

Catalogues, printed guides and other resources

Albanian material elsewhere in the British Library



Milan Grba, Lead Curator, South-East European Studies
European Studies
The British Library
96 Euston Road
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)20 7412 7590