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French Language Collections

TitleFrench Language Collections

The University’s strong international connections are demonstrated by the variety of languages present in the collections. The French language is particularly well represented, mainly in the personal papers of professors such as Charles Sarolea, John Orr, and Robert Ritchie.

Papers of Charles Sarolea (Coll-15): Charles Sarolea (1870-1953) was a prolific and controversial commentator on a wide range of political, philosophical and literary topics. He was the University of Edinburgh’s first Professor of French, from 1918 to 1931. Sarolea published important works on French language and literature, and he wrote thousands of articles on a wide range of political, philosophical and literary subjects. His collection covers the years 1897-1952 and contains material relating to all of his many activities and interests, including papers relating to the weekly literary journal Everyman, personal correspondence and correspondence relating to his work at the University of Edinburgh, and his writings.

Papers of Professor John Orr (Coll-77): John Orr (1885- 1966) was Professor of French Language and Romance Linguistics and Dean of Faculty at the University of Edinburgh. He played a major role in the rebuilding of Caen after it was devastated by bombing in the Second World War. His papers consist of correspondence, lectures and other material mainly about Romance linguistics. There is a scrapbook of wartime newspaper cuttings, and photographic material relating to Caen. There are also rolled maps and linguistic charts. Professor Orr also donated a large number of books to the University Library, some 300 of which have been reconstituted as a named special collection.

Papers of Professor R.L.G. Ritchie (Coll-93): Robert Lindsay Graeme Ritchie (1880-1954) was Lecturer in French at Edinburgh University between 1909 and 1919. Ritchie became Professor of French Language and Literature at Birmingham University in 1919 and in 1946 he became Professor of French at University College, Exeter. His papers consist mainly of material relating to a projected work on the French element in Scots.

We also have earlier manuscripts in French in the Laing collection: correspondence and papers relating to the French Revolution and French politics; charters and indentures in old French; and manuscript books including treatises, prayer books, and medieval literary works. Finally, Special Collections have recently acquired a beautiful manuscript book dating from 1820, containing illustrations, folk songs, calendars, recipes, proverbs and poems in French.

OriginFrance; Edinburgh; Belgium

Image: Letter from Charles-Francois Delacroix related to the French Revolution, 3 February 1796 (La.II/654/12/219)