William Warren Vernon's Dante Collection

Scope and Content

The collection comprises two manuscript parts of Vernon's edition of the commentary by Benevenuto Rambaldi of Imola on the Divine comedy. The first is the original manuscript of Readings on the Inferno of Dante chiefly based on the commentary of Benevenuto da Imola (1894), whilst the second is a manuscript of part of the first edition of Readings on the Purgatorio of Dante chiefly based on the commentary of Benevenuto da Imola (1889).

Administrative / Biographical History

The Honourable William John Borlase-Warren-Venables-Vernon (1834-1919), Dante scholar, was the second son of George John Venables-Vernon (1803-1866), 5th Lord Vernon. In 1855 he married Agnes Lucy, daughter of Sir John Peter Boileau; she died in 1881 and in 1884 he remarried, to Annie Georgiana, daughter of Charles Eyre. In 1887, with the aid of the Anglo-Italian scholar Sir James Lacaita (1813-1895), Vernon published the first complete rendition of the popular commentary by the fourteenth-century Italian Benvenuto Rambaldi of Imola (d. circa 1390) on Dante's Divine comedy. He also published an autobiography, Recollections of seventy-two years, in 1917. Vernon received several honours for his services to Italian literature and culture; he held the titles of Accademico Corrispondente della Crusca at Florence, and Socio Corrispondente del Reale Istituto Lombardo di Scienza e Letteratura at Milan, and he was made a Cavaliere of the Order of San Maurizio e Lazzaro. Vernon was also a Knight of the Royal Order of St Olaf in Norway. He served as a justice of the peace and deputy lieutenant for Staffordshire.

Access Information

The collection is available for consultation by any accredited reader.

Acquisition Information

Purchased by the John Rylands Library from the bookseller Percy Mordaunt Barnard of Royal Tunbridge Wells in March 1914.


Description compiled by Henry Sullivan and Jo Klett, project archivists, with reference to:

Other Finding Aids

Catalogued in the Hand-List of the Collection of English Manuscripts in the John Rylands Library, 1928 (English MSS 118-119).