Literature of the Liberation: the French experience in print 1944-1946

This exhibition in the Milstein Exhibition Centre at Cambridge University Library celebrates the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Paris and shows some of the books that were published mainly in France, after August 1944 and before the end of 1946, on the subjects of the Second World War, the German occupation of France starting in 1940, and the country’s liberation by the Allies in 1944-1945. The books are from the Chadwyck-Healey Liberation Collection, donated to Cambridge University Library and still being added to, which is the definitive collection of French books from this period on these subjects. The exhibition opens on May 7 and runs until October 11, 2014.

 I. Blanchot, Libération de Paris: aquarelles de Pierre Albert Leroux

I. Blanchot, Libération de Paris: aquarelles de Pierre Albert Leroux

Beautiful books began to be published immediately after the liberation of Paris in August 1944 even though the war was still being fought in France. Once Paris was free and the Vichy government had collapsed there was no longer censorship, and it is the immediacy of this response and the quality of the books themselves that makes this period so interesting for the history of the book. The wide availability of fine, handmade papers at the end of the war is one of the discoveries of this collection.

Many of the volumes are association copies with important dedications, but it is the books themselves that are evidence of the importance that the French people attached to publishing accounts of their experiences during the crisis that had befallen France.

Guest author: Charles Chadwyck-Healey

At the time of writing some 320 items have been catalogued, and can be accessed by conducting a keyword search on Newton on the phraseChadwyck-Healey Liberation Collection”. An alternative means of access is to conduct a classmark search on Newton or Library Search (the provisional classmark for the sequence begins In process.1-). Another hundred or more titles still await processing, and new material is regularly being added to the collection.

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