Karin McPherson Collection

A unique research opportunity for students of the literature and culture of the German Democratic Republic (GDR).

The Karin McPherson Collection of GDR Writing has been acquired by the University of Edinburgh Library Special Collections and may be accessed for research purposes.

The comprehensive collection of some 1,000 volumes consists primarily of the private acquisitions of Dr McPherson and presents a complete overview of the GDR’s literary (and sometimes broader) culture from 1949 to 1989, including internationally renowned and lesser-known writers.

All the books are catalogued with shelfmarks starting “KMP”.

Browse the Library's Collections online for books with the shelfmark KMP

About Dr Karin McPherson

Dr Karin McPherson came to Britain from the former West Germany in the late 1950s. She spent the academic year of 1956 to 1957 as a Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD) scholar at the University of Edinburgh, and joined the German department in 1959.

She developed a reputation as an excellent teacher and researcher in the area of German literary studies. In particular, she was a pioneer in the teaching and study of East German literature, and organised student exchanges with the German Democratic Republic (GDR) at a time when this was virtually unknown.

Karin acquired her collection of GDR writing over a 20-year period, as a basis for her teaching and research. A sizable portion of the collection’s works was made accessible through direct links with her colleagues at East German academic institutions.

In the decades following her retirement as a Senior Lecturer in 1997, Dr McPherson continued to take a lively interest in the work of research students and staff in German Studies and to support the department's events. She donated her collection of GDR writing to the University of Edinburgh Library in 2007. It is now part of the Library's Special Collections.

Karin was instrumental in maintaining the international reputation of German Studies at Edinburgh, but she also had strong links outside the department: for example, she was a leading light in the Anna Seghers Gesellschaft. We owe her a considerable debt, and were very saddened to hear of her death in November 2022.

The significance of the collection

As Professor Andrew Barker from the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures explains, the collection presents a complete overview of the GDR’s literary (and sometimes broader) culture from its inception to its end (1949 to 1989), with the main focus on the period from 1960 to 1989.

About the collection

The Karin McPherson Collection of GDR writing is accessible for consultation through the online catalogue at the University of Edinburgh Library’s Special Collections.