Collection of Books

The Petőfi Literary Museum was established as the legal successor of Petőfi House in 1954. Thus it inherited the basis of its old book collection. The nearly half a million stock of books at present has been growing since then. It holds many invaluable documents and has become an essential reference library for researching the history of literature in Hungary.
It is not only a library in a traditional sense. It serves not only academic research and education, but also raises the acquired documents to the level of museum pieces. Thus they are also presented at certain exhibitions. This dual task makes the library unique among museum libraries in Hungary. This fact is also reflected in the handling of the stock. A detailed condition report is made about each art object during processing. The unique nature of the volume, i.e. the dedication, autographs and ex libris, are recorded. In each case the book designer, illustrator, features of the volume and its artistic presentation are recorded. The collection has a high number of rare examples of typographic art from the work of great figures or workshops of Hungarian typographers (e.g. Imre Kner, Lajos Kozma and György Haiman).
The library is a reference library of Hungarian literature and the history of Hungarian literature. Its collection includes classical Hungarian literature, writing on the history of literature and literary museology. Collecting first editions is an emphasised task. In addition, we strive to acquire both the Hungarian and foreign editions of Hungarian literary works. The collection has numerous highly valuable first editions, such as several works by poet and writer György Bessenyei (The Tragedy of Buda, 1773, The Philosopher, 1777, Devout Intent for a Hungarian Society, 1790) as well as the first edition of Mattie the Goose-boy by Mihály Fazekas, the first publications of texts by Petőfi and The Siren of the Adriatic Sea by Miklós Zrínyi, published in 1651.
Our book collection includes significant rarities, such as a highly valuable acquisition of a copy of the Bible of Vizsoly (1590) and an edition of The Hammer of the Village, which was presumably illustrated by the author, Sándor Petőfi himself. Rare volumes of outstanding typographic art from Mór Jókai’s library can also be found in the collection.
The acquisition of contemporary Hungarian literature is also part of collection building. We have close contacts with many authors, publishers and literary workshops in and outside Hungary, as well as various partner institutions, domestic and foreign museums and libraries. In this way our stock can be increased with publications which are difficult to access in other libraries in Hungary.
Many great Hungarian writers and poets have bequeathed their collections of books to the PLM; thus these writers’ libraries are kept in the collection. In addition, acquisitions of writer’s and literary historian’s collections also happen by purchase. Besides complete estates, the collection also has outstanding volumes from the libraries of many great authors – for example, some books from Miklós Radnóti’s library.
The number of signed volumes may be assessed at several thousand. There are many in individual writer’s bequests and they represent a very important source for researchers. Many authors can be found among those who signed the volumes or received the dedication – from the Reform Age to the present. These special copies are often displayed at exhibitions.
Literature in emigration is an important part of the library’s collection. The collection is unique – many volumes and journals can be found in Hungary only in the library of the PLM.
Contact: E-mail:, Telephone: + 36 1 317 3611 / 217

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