Edward Gordon Duff (1863-1924), bibliographer, was born on 16 February 1863 in Liverpool. He was educated at Cheltenham College, and Wadham College, Oxford, graduating in classics in 1887. In 1889 he began to read for the bar. In 1893 he became librarian to Mrs Rylands. He catalogued her books (including the Spencer Collection), advised on new purchases, organised the collection, and supervised its transfer to the new John Rylands Library in Manchester. The library opened in 1900, but Duff resigned shortly afterwards after disagreements with Mrs Rylands. From then on he supported himself with freelance work, various academic appointments and the income from his books.
Duff's first work, Early printed books, was published in 1893, followed by Early English printing in 1896. His works on early printing included two textbooks: The printers, stationers and bookbinders of Westminster and London from 1476 to 1535 (1906) and The English provincial printers, stationers and bookbinders to 1557 (1912); a biographical dictionary, A century of the English book trade, 1457-1557 (1905); and a bibliography, twenty-eight years in the making, of Fifteenth century English books: a bibliography of books and documents printed in England and of books for the English market printed abroad (1917). A work on armorial book-stamps remained unpublished.
Duff regarded bibliography as a science, and his work set new standards of accuracy. He was scathing in his criticism of colleagues whose work did not match these standards. He lived in Liverpool until 1915, and thereafter in Oxford. He died at his home in Oxford on 28 September 1924.
Source: Arnold Hunt, 'Duff, Edward Gordon (1863-1924)', rev., Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004. By permission of Oxford University Press - http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/37374.