The Stainforth Library of Women’s Writing studies the largest private library of Anglophone women’s writing collected in the nineteenth century. 

Francis John Stainforth (1797-1866), an Anglican clergyman, collected a unique private library during the mid-nineteenth century. His library catalog lists 7,726 editions (8,804 volumes) authored and edited by 3,721 writers, nearly all of whom are women. The titles in the collection have publication dates that cover four centuries of literary history, and these works were published in North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. 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 women 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 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
Please cite our project if you use our content. Thank you.