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Hispanic Collection

We acquire and makes available selected publications in the humanities and social sciences at research level from Spain, Portugal, Latin America, the Spanish-speaking Caribbean and the former Hispanic territories in Asia and Africa. It is one of two greatest collections of Spanish imprints outside Spain.

Complutensian polyglot bible

British Library, G.11951-56. A Bible in Syriac, Latin, Greek and Hebrew, printed in 1520 in Alcalá de Henares, generally known as the Complutensian polyglot. Copyright © The British Library Board

Spanish collections

The British Library holds one of the two great collections of Spanish imprints outside Spain (the other being that of the Hispanic Society of America in New York). For the period before 1601, c. 3000 books are held and virtually all the early presses are represented. The Library has the most complete set of the parts of Amadís de Gaula in existence. In general, Spanish books published outside Spain are well represented. No important Spanish 17th-century imprints are lacking in the collection. 18th-century Spain is especially well represented (e.g. c. 200 Ibarra imprints). 19th- and 20th-century books have been acquired covering a range of subjects within the humanities and social sciences and, in particular, literature and history are widely collected. Miscellaneous collections of note are: the Ashbee collection of editions of Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616); the collection of John Rutter Chorley (1807?-1867) of Spanish drama and poetry and books on Spanish drama; and many collections of Spanish and Catalan chapbooks. A good collection of Hispanic official publications is held by the Social Policy Information Service.

Portuguese and Portuguese African collections

The Library holds an excellent collection of c. 350 16th-century Portuguese books. Another collection of note includes c. 500 Portuguese ballads, romances etc, 1835-1862 (1074.g.23-28). The Library has strong holdings of late 19th- and early 20th-century literature. African countries are represented in the collections by material dating from colonial times and material continues to be collected today from countries where Portuguese is the official language. Material is also collected from Timor and Macau.

Latin American collections

The British Library has the largest collection on Latin America in the United Kingdom, containing material on all humanities and social science topics and periods and on all the countries of Latin America and the Spanish-speaking Caribbean. Mexico and Brazil are especially well represented. There are strong collections of material on the independence movements of early 19th-century South America. The Library is well supplied for the earlier part of the 19th century in holdings of Brazilian and Argentinian historical and literary items. Of note is the collection of mainly 19th-century pamphlets, formed by the political journalist Luis López Domínguez (1810-1898?). Central American holdings are less complete. Among historical official publications held, Mexican and Brazilian material of the first half of the 19th century is well represented.