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James Cathcart White

Gifts of books and money: a continuing tradition.

James Cathcart White (1853-1943), an Edinburgh graduate and advocate, left the Library a fine collection of some 360 works and a significant sum of money which is still used to purchase books and manuscripts today.

The collection includes ten incunabula, including a copy of Cicero’s 'Epistolae ad Familiares' printed on vellum in 1469 (Inc.76.5), which happens to be the first book printed in Venice. There are other early printed works and modern titles, mainly of English literature, history and biography, which are scattered throughout the Library. The Centre for Research Collections maintains records of the original bequest so the collection can be virtually reconstructed.

Cathcart White also bequeathed 14 late medieval manuscripts, including 11 magnificent Books of Hours. These are described in N. R. Ker, 'Medieval Manuscripts in British libraries', vol. 2 (Oxford, 1977).

For further information see: Robert Donaldson, 'Nine Incunabula in the Cathcart White Collection in Edinburgh University Library'. ('The Bibliotheck', 2, 1959, pp.66-69).