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Authors: Photographs from the Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature

Hundreds of portraits – prints and photographs – picturing more than 120 authors writing in English, primarily from the 1860s to the 1920s, and later, organized alphabetically by sitter.

Collection Contents  |  Related Subjects

[Virginia Woolf and Dame Ethel Smyth.] Digital ID: 484383 [Virginia Woolf and Dame Ethel Smyth.] Digital ID: 484383

Collection History

This digital presentation offers the richly diverse contents of the Berg Collection's portrait file of prints and photographs. In addition to Virginia Woolf, outstanding authors included in the Berg Collection's portrait file are Louisa May Alcott, Charles Dickens, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Walt Whitman (photographed by the American painter Thomas Eakins). Complementing the Berg Collection holdings are additional Walt Whitman portraits in the Rare Books Division's Oscar Lion Collection.


From the very beginning, starting with the original collections assembled by founders Henry W. and Albert A. Berg, which came to NYPL early in the 1940s, the Berg Collection has acquired author-related portraits. Most of them were simply accompaniments to manuscript and book acquisitions, which have continued to grow over the ensuing decades. In recent years, however, the Berg Collection has also acquired author portraits themselves, by gift and by purchase.

In May 1953, Oscar Lion (1876-1971) presented to NYPL a portion of his remarkable Walt Whitman collection of over 500 items, including books, periodicals, pamphlets, and portraits, and placed the remainder on deposit. By 1960, the entire collection was the property of the library, administered by the Rare Books Division. Most importantly, it includes one of the few known daguerreotypes of Whitman.

Related Resources

"Walt Whitman: The Oscar Lion Collection," Bulletin of The New York Public Library 58 (1954): 213-29. Also separately published in 1953.

Library Division(s)

NYPL Digital Gallery provides free and open access to over 800,000 images digitized from primary sources and printed rarities in the vast collections of The New York Public Library, including drawings, illuminated manuscripts, historical maps, vintage posters, rare prints and photographs, illustrated books, printed ephemera, and more.