Francis John Stainforth (1797-1866), an Anglican clergyman, owned the largest private library of Anglophone women’s writing collected during the mid-nineteenth century. His library catalog lists 7,122 editions (over 8,000 volumes) authored and edited by more than 2,800 writers, nearly all of whom are women who have been left out of literary and book histories. Covering four centuries of literary history, the earliest work in the collection is the 1546 Examination of Anne Askew, and the most recent works are those published in 1866, the year Stainforth died. The library features poets, dramatists, non-fiction writers, composers, lyricists, editors, translators, journalists, printers, and artists. By digitizing Stainforth’s library catalog manuscript and making it searchable, we draw critical attention to the unrecognized extent of authorship and women’s writing in circulation in the nineteenth century. We also point to the fact that these authors and their texts, many of which are now rare or “lost,” at one time counted.

We are proud to offer access to our project-in-progress.

  • Browse our transcription of Stainforth’s library catalog and view page images of the manuscript. If you find errors, please contact us and we will fix them.
  • Discover the authors in the catalog and their titles that Stainforth collected or wanted to collect
  • Search the catalog by title, name, keyword, format, publication place, year range, and more
  • View Stainforth’s titles listed as they were shelved
  • Learn about our project rationale, methodologies, and editorial style
  • Read blog posts about our recovery efforts as well as a short biography of the collector, Francis Stainforth
  • Locate Stainforth’s original books in libraries around the world
  • Download the library catalog digital edition in TEI P5.

Please cite our project if you use our content. Thank you.