Document ReferenceBVSC
TitleEiríkur Benedikz Icelandic Collection (printed books)
Date18th century - 21st century
Extent1388 items
Access ConditionsAccessible to all readers.
Admin HistoryEiríkur Benedikz (1907-1988) was a scholar, diplomat and bibliophile, who contributed to Anglo-Icelandic relations in all these areas.

Educated in Reykjavík, he studied English in Copenhagen, Cambridge and Leeds before returning to Iceland in 1931. He spent some years teaching English, writing textbooks, translating and interpreting. Having served as British pro-consul in Reykjavík from 1938, he was appointed to the newly-established Icelandic Legation in London in 1942, where he remained for the rest of his career. He had been the guide and mentor of a series of ministers and ambassadors from Iceland. He played a beneficent role during the Cod War. He was appointed Knight of the Falcon in 1954, and Grand Knight in 1963. He retired as Minister-Counsellor in 1978.

In London, Benedikz became associated with University College London, where he contributed to Modern Icelandic teaching from 1951. A loyal supporter of the Viking Society for Northern Research, he served as its President from 1959 to 1962. He collected Islandica for over sixty years and built up a substantial library of approximately 3000 items.
Custodial HistoryThe library of Eiríkur Benedikz was given to the University of Nottingham Library by the Benedikz family in 1999. It came about through a friendship he formed at University College London with Christine Fell, a lecturer at The University of Nottingham from 1971 and Chair of Early English Studies from 1981.

In 2001 The University of Nottingham Library was granted a Research Support Libraries Programme (RSLP) award as the lead site for a collaborative project to establish a gateway to Icelandic literature. EGIL (Electronic Gateway to Icelandic Literature) was completed in 2002. Over 2,500 records were created, about 800 of them describing titles within the reserved Benedikz Special Collections. These catalogue records are now available on the Library's online catalogue.
DescriptionThe University Library has over the years built up a good collection of books and journals in Norse, Icelandic and Viking Studies. The bulk of the material forms part of the general library subject stock. The Benedikz Collection extends this, fills gaps and adds whole series, which lie within the category of Special Collections because of their rarity or specialised nature.

The collection of Old Icelandic manuscript facsimiles is now almost doubled, providing an important resource for the scholar. The early printed books in the Benedikz Collection include fine examples of rare early saga editions, fascinating to the student of the history of the subject. Iceland has long been a favoured goal of intrepid travellers, and the Benedikz Collection contains a number of notable items in this genre from the eighteenth and nineteenth century.

Most notably, the Collection augments Nottingham's patchy collection of Icelandic literature written after the medieval Golden Age. Eiríkur Benedikz specialised in collecting editions of rímur, a uniquely Icelandic poetic genre that was copiously produced and popular from the thirteenth right through to the twentieth century, and his collection of these is exceptional in its range.

Much of the original donation has been placed within general library stock; the more rare material was used to establish the Eiríkur Benedikz Icelandic Collection, and includes books published in Iceland before 1914, all editions of rímur, selected fine bindings, and manuscript facsimiles.
MgtGroupLiterary and cultural records
Printed Book Collections
ArrangementThe collection is arranged according to Library of Congress classification.
TermIcelandic literature - history and criticism
Icelandic poetry
FindingAidsThe collection is catalogued on the University of Nottingham's library catalogue NUsearch ( To browse the Collection, enter the search term BVSC (the code for Eiríkur Benedikz Icelandic Collection) into the main search box and select to search within the Library Catalogue only.
ReprodnNoteReprographic copies can be supplied for educational and private study purposes only, depending on access status and the condition of the documents.
Related MaterialPapers relating to Eiríkur Benedikz (1907-1988), scholar, diplomat and bibliophile, and his family, 1816-1999 (MS 718)
Related RecordMS718
Publication NoteWork from the EGIL project supported the mounting of an exhibition about the Library’s Icelandic holdings, a selected element of which is now available as an online exhibition on the Manuscripts and Special Collections website, and an information leaflet about Icelandic literature in the University Library.

Several items from the collection were included among the texts made available in digital form as part of the EGIL programme. (

Click the links below to view related name indexes

CodePersonNameDates of existence
NA886Benedikz; Eiríkur (1907-1988); scholar diplomat and bibliophile1907-1988
Add to My Items