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A unique collection of literary works that were published following the German retreat from French soil held by Cambridge University Library (UL) is now on public display in New York’s Grolier Club, America’s oldest and largest society for bibliophiles and enthusiasts in the graphic arts.

The items will be on display until 1st March. The exhibition has been assembled from the collection of more than 600 books, cartoons, magazines, photographs and gramophone records donated to the UL by collector, Sir Charles Chadwyck-Healey. From May – October 2014, many items from the Chadwyck-Healey Liberation Collection were on public display in the UL’s exhibition Literature of the Liberation: The French Experience in Print 1944-1946 and now enthusiasts in the USA will also have the chance to view the literary response to the liberation of Paris.

After four years of occupation, Paris was liberated on 25th August, 1944. In the immediate aftermath writers, artists, photographers and film-makers sought to capture what the experience had been like. 

Chadwyck-Healey said: “The days, weeks and months following liberation were such an extraordinary time for people in France. Occupation and liberation were cataclysmic events in French history. They had to deal with the scars of overwhelming defeat, living with the Germans, and then having the Allies sweeping through the country. All this had a profound effect on the national psyche.

“Much of the collection is about shame, but the most surprising thing is the sense of humour, irony and self-deprecation. After liberation, from the very first moments of freedom, there was an extraordinary outpouring of material.”

If you missed the Literature of the Liberation exhibition at the UL, you can view many of the items in the virtual exhibition by clicking here.