The reconstruction of Bozena Nemcova personal library and its content according to surviving sources

Today, only a fragment of the original Bozena Nemcova personal library remains. We have at our disposal only one list prepared by Nemcova herself (undated) and it is therefore difficult to specify the size of her library or to estimate the relative size of the fragment. During the library reconstruction process, we have based our research on surviving documents and few preserved publications.

The literary left estate of Bozena Nemcova (stored at the Literary Archive of the Museum of Czech Literature, previously called the Literary Archive of the National Museum) contains family and official documents, correspondence, manuscripts, photographs and also four hard-cover volumes entitled "From Bozena Nemcova Library". These documents, however, include no straightforward indication of them being owned by Nemcova and only the fact, that they were placed together with Nemcova´s literary left state (and that one title is mentioned in the above mentioned list of library items), indicates that they probably belonged to Bozena Nemcova. Their acquisition number indicates that these documents were gained by the archive collections in 1935, but no more information is available.

We are speaking off the following books:

Gaugain, Johanna. Arbeitsbuch für Damen zur Ausführung nutzlicher und geschmackvoller Musster in der Strick-,Retz- und Häckel-Arbeit. Leipzig: Theodor Thomas, 1842

Hanus, Ignac Jan. Vorlesungen über die allgemeine Cultur-Geschichte der Menschheit: behalten an der Universität zu Olmüz. Brünn: Carl Winiker, 1849. This item is very probably included on the list of books prepared by Nemcova.

Zschokke, Heinrich. Novellen und Dichtungen. Aarau: Sauerländer, 1856. Bd.VI - Bogen 1-9. Classiker-Ausgabe, vol. 6.

Geschichtlicher und erklärender Text zum Prag - Dresdner Panorama für Touristen der Eisenbahn und Dampf-Schifffahrt. Prag: Karl Andre, 1848

Books include no personalized markings or notes (autographs, inscriptions, highlighted text, etc.). The Arbeitsbuch für Damen seems to have been used extensively.

The collections of the National Museum registry include important documents, which have helped to identify further items - including two volumes inscribed to Nemcova and indicating hereby her ownership.[1] These documents reflect the negotiations between the National Museum and Dora Nemcova, the writer´s daughter, about the left estate of Bozena Nemcova in 1920´s. According to a letter sent by Vaclav Tille to Bohuslav Nemec on 15 June 1919, Dona Nemcova offered to the National Museum Nemcova´s left estate with the provision that the documents will be physically transferred to Museum collections after Dora´s death. Attached to the letter is a list of the left estate items offered for acquisition (which includes twenty books). These books include:

Koubkovy knihy sebrane, Published by F.L.Vorlicek 1857. III. volume, hardcover;

Wolff, Hausschatz der Volkpoesie. Leipzig 1846, hardcover;[2]

Klácel, Dobroveda, Praha 1847. Includes the following inscription: "Sestre Bozene na pamatku Klacel". (With sheets uncut!)

Songs by F. J. Kamenicky, Prague 1833, hardcover;

Shakespeare translations;

Hamlet, Kolar 1855, paperback;

Richard III, Doucha 1855, paperback; 

Lear, L. Celakovsky 1856, paperback;

Koriolan, Doucha 1858, paperback;

Henry V., Cejka 1858, paperback;

Henry IV., Lad. Celakovský 1859, paperpback;

Thom. Morus, Utopia. Übers. v. Öttinger, Leipzig 1846, hardcover; proof-sheet: M. Klacel;

Hertz, König Renés Tochter, Berlin 1856, hardcover;

Goethe, Tasso. Theater v. Goethe III. Theil, Wien 1816, hardcover;

Joricks empfingsame Reise durch Frankreich u. Italien, Berlin 1853. (Bookbinding spurious.)

Guizot, Washington, German translation, unknown author, hardcover;

Boerne. Nationalbibliothek deutschen Classiker. Hildburghausen, undated, hardcover;

Jahn, Katechismus der Astronomie, Leipzig, 1851, hardcover;

Anastasius Grün, Schutt (Dichtungen) 4. Aufl. Leipzig, 1840, hardcover. Writing by unknown persons: "Madame Božena Nemes. L. Bode"

Tegner, Frithjofs Sage. Übers. v. Mohniker, Leipzig, 1844, hardcover.


Only six items of this list were mentioned by Nemcova in her library list. The remaining items were probably purchased only after the preparation of her list.

According to documents available, the National Museum expressed its interest in buying the left estate. However, the Museum has asked for an immediate transfer of some manuscripts and correspondence, but Dora Nemcova insisted on keeping them until her death. She then started to negotiate about the left estate witht the Tourist Department in Ceska Skalice, which was planning to establish Bozena Nemcova Museum at Ceska Skalice.[3] In a letter dated 20 October 1919 addressed to the Museum committee, Zdenek Zahor (an intermediary between Dora Nemcova and the Museum) offered as a parcial replacement Nemcova´s letters and books owned by his wife, Marie Zahorova (nee Nemcova - Bozena Nemcova´s grand-daughter). Dora Nemcova later sold the left estate to the Municipal Council at Ceska Skalice. The above mentioned documents from the estate of Marie Zahorova-Nemcova were purchased by the National Museum and books were forwarded to the National Museum library. The current whereabouts of these volumes are unknown.

On the basis of this information, project workers contacted the Bozena Nemcova Museum at Ceska Skalice. With the assistance of the Museum Librarian Lenka Hubkova, seven items of the above specified list were located, two of which certainly belonged (were inscribed) to Nemcova. These include:

Goethe, J.W. Theather von Goethe. Wien: B.Ph. Bauer, 1816. 3. Th., Torquato Tasso.

Grün, Anastasius. Schutt: dichtungen. Leipzig: Wiedmann´sche Buchhandlung, 1840. The book includes many ticks and highlighted text. It also includes the following inscription: Madame Bozena Nemes. L. Bodenstein".

Morus, Thomas. Utopia. Leipzig: Philipp Reclam jun., 1846. The title page of the book is rubber stamped "M. Klacel". It is very likely that Klacel gave this book to Nemcova.

Tegner, Esaias. Die frithjofs Sage. Leipzig: Carl Cnobloch, 1844. The book includes inscription by L. Bodenstein. Many marks and ticks along the text. This publication is listed in the Nemcova´s list of books.

Jahn, G. A. Katechismus der Astronomie: belehrungen über den gesstirnten, die Erde und den Kalender. Leipzig: J.J. Weber, 1851. The book has large "K" in the right top corned of the title page. (Karel Nemec?). This book is listed in the Nemcova´s list of books.

Kamenický, F.J. Pjsne w narodnjm ceskem duchu. Praha: W. Spinka, 1833. This book is listed in the Nemcova´s list of books.

Klacel, F.M. Dobroveda. Praha: published by Ceske museum, W komisii u Kronbergra a Riwnac, 1847. Ed. Spisu muzejnich, No. XXVI, Mala encyklopedie nauk, No. VII. The book contains Klacel´s  inscription to B. Nemcova. This book is listed in the Nemcova´s list of books.


The above listed books located at the Literary Archive of the Museum of Czech Lietrature and at the Bozena Nemcova Museum are published in the form of list of individualized books from Bozena Nemcova library at our web site; other items were not located. Only two volumes include features indicating Bozena Nemcova´s ownership; two of them include ticks and highlighted text, but it remains unclear whether these marks were really made by Nemcova.

According to Miroslav Novotny, Bozena Nemcova Museum at Ceska Skalice should have in its collections the only known manuscript of her library entitled simply "Library List". However, the list has not yet been located[4] and we therefore had to base our research only on the list published by Miroslav Novotny in Marginalia in 1949[5] (and in his book "Bozena Nemcova v dokumentech").

In her list, Nemcova divided the library into five sections. The list was written on double-sheets with each section recorded on a separate page (with the exception of last two sections). The pages´ titles were as follows: "Scientific" (i.e. list of books on science), 77 items, "Entertainment" (115 items), "Poetry" (88 items). Fourth page includes two sections - "Educational" (18 items) and "Theatre" (19 items).[6]

According to this list, Nemcova library included 317 books and about 60 volumes of journals (the exact number cannot be ascertained because of the variable periodicity of volumes; also, it seems that some items have been included by Nemcova is multiple sections). Novotny maintained the visual arrangement of the original list (with grammar anomalies, incomplete information, items crossed out and items written in italics). Our list includes slightly amended information - including the probable year of publishing and brief comments. Whenever possible, Czech national bibliography data were added and we can therefore present the following characteristics of Nemcova personal library:

Composition of the library according to Bozena Nemcova list

The library includes mostly Czech books, Czech translations of foreign books and publications in German.

The "Scientific" section includes scientific books, such as Nastin logiky na zaklade metafysickem by H.J. Hanus, Zakladni filosofie by Antonin Marek, Prirodopis s obrazy[7] by Stanek or Rostlinopis by J.S. Presl, it further includes books on geography, history and language of Czech lands: Dejiny narodu ceskeho by F. Palacky in both Czech and German edition, Jungmann´s Historie literatury, Slovansky narodopis by Safarik, Cechoslowan, cili, Narodni jazyk v Cechach, na Morave, ve Slezku a Slovensku by Frantisek Kampelik, first volume of Doby prwniho clowecenstwa by J.S. Tomicek, Archiv, cili, Stare pisemne pamatky ceske a moravske by F. Palacky, Vseobecny dejepis by F.J. Smetana, Jungmann´s Slovesnost, Deje mocnarstvi rakouskeho and Deje zeme ceske by V.V. Tomek, two volumes of Vseobecny zemepis by K.V. Zapp and Dobrovsky´s biography by F. Palacky (in German).

The section includes also educational books: Didaktika and Orbis Pictus by J.A. Komensky, but also Skolka, cili, Prwopocatecnj, prakticke, nazorne, wsestranne wyucowanj malych djtek by Jan Svoboda or Duseslovi, neb, Kratke vceni o dusi pro ditky by J.H. Campe. There is also Hospodarska kniha without further information and publication on bee-keeping.  

The entertainment section contains five volumes of Consuelo by G. Sande, Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens, Gogol´s works[8], Gil Blas de Santillane by Alan-René Lesage, historical novel Jan Hus by Karl Herloßsohn, historical book Posledni Orebita by J.E. Vocel. This section contains also the works of V.M. Kramerius Cesta do Arabie, Listove z davnovekosti by J.G.von Herder (translated by Celakovsky), Posledni Cech by J.K. Tyl and Spisy Jana z Hvezdy. Nemcova included also seven volumes of her Bachorky among entertainment books (the list does not clearly identify the editions) and the work of Matej Miksicek (probably his collected fairytales and stories of Moravian folk and stories). There are also three atlases and one large atlas accompanying K.V. Zappa geography (it is unclear whether this is Austrian or Czech-Moravian-Salesian geography), a story from the times of Jindrich Korutansky Jirina by Prokop Chocholousek and Kocourkov by the same author as well as children books Darek divcinkam and Darek chlapeckum by K.B. Storch, an educational short story for young readers Fedor a Ludvika by Gustava Nieritz and Jindrich a Marie by Amalie Schoppe and others.   

Poetry is represented mainly by Czech authors: Klacel, Macha, Kollar, Puchmajer, Celakovsky, Kamenicky, Nebesky, Vinaricky, F.J. Rubes, and others. Foreign works include Goethe´s Faust and Pisen Nibelungu, Friethofsage by Tregner, Kralovodvorsky rukopis translated by Slavek Zlatojevic, Iryllic Tamburashi, Jahudky collected by Ji. Jordan, B. Lenau´s poems and folk poetry by Wolf.[9] This section includes also several grammar publications: Ceska mluvnice by J.S. Tomicek and a book on Serbian grammar, books on phrenology and astronomy, Cervantes´ Don Quijote (spelled as "Don Guixotte"), Improvisator by Andersen, Sofokles´ Antigona, Mister Floh by E.T.A Hoffmann, Hadanky by J.V. Rozum or the above mentioned Hanus´ lectures on culture presented at the Olomouc University. Several books of this section were probably lent to Sladecek[10] (judging by Nemcova´s notes - "u Sladecka" in case of Jablonsky´ poems and K.D. Villani´s poems or in case of Protichudci by Nebesky. In case of Macha´s works the note says "tez u Sladecka"). Jablonsky´s poems might have been lost (as her note indicates) and at Villani´s poems the word "tez" was crossed out, probably after the book was returned.

"Educational" items include first of all the Bible followed by further unspecified "brochures": Slovo o vychovani mladeze by V.V Stulc, Dobra rada v potrebe dedicated to the topic of a correct consumer patriotic behavior, Offenes Schreiben des Grafen Leo Thun an Herrn Johann Slawjk  by Leopold Thun, patriotic Laska k vlasti, rec k ucitelstvu by J.M. Kral, Slavismus in Böhmen by J.M. Kral, Duwerne slowo w cas potrebny, ginak, Mraworec na den Pocetj Blahoslawene Marye Panny by K.M. Hrdlicka and at its time revolutionary philosophic Aufsatz by Augustin Smetana.

Plays are represented mostly by contemporary Czech production (Jan Hus by Tyl, Masinkar by Jan Nepomuk Nürnberger, Vlastenci by Jan Nepomuk Stepanek, Harfa by J.E. Vocela, Malir Karel Skreta by V.A. Svoboda). The remaing books are Czech translations of foreign works: Divochove by F.E. Rambach, Nevolnici and Paserove by the same author, Goethe´s Ifigenie (translated by S.K. Machacek), Nalezenec, probably by A. Dörle, Opicka and Unos ze Serailu by Ch.F. Bretzner, Srdce a svet by Karl Gutzkow, Epigram by August von Kotzebue and Vodar by Jean-Nicolas Bouilly. Here again George Sand´s novela Consuelo is listed.

Several items were crossed out, probably by Nemcova.

Magazines are represented by the following items: Casopis ceskeho Museum (vol. 1843-1849), Moravsko slezsky casopis (1 vol.), Cechoslovan (6 vol.), one volume of Hornik magazine, four complete volumes of Kvety (J. Pospisil mentioned in his letter of 28 December 1846 that he was sending her the magazine), three volumes of Ceska vcela, two volumes of Bohemie, one volume of Evropa, three items of „newspaper", one copy of Poutnik (from the list we cannot deduce, which magazine this was at Nemcova´s time), one volume of Ost und West (a magazine focusing on arts and literature published in Prague during 1837-1848) and one volume of Erinnerungen. There is also one copy of Politicke listy, one volume of an unidentified "weekly", four volumes of Prazsky posel, one volume of a weekly for educated audience Kvety a plody, which was published in 1848, and six volumes of Palecek.

The library composition confirms the opinion, that its owner was an intellectual longing to understand current science, a patriot interested in linguistics, history and geography of her country, a writer well-oriented in Czech and foreign literary production and a mother interested in the education of her children. As the books´ publication years indicate, the list was prepared probably between 1851-1954 (as most books listed were published in 1840-1851). Books not listed, but mentioned in the list of left estate, were published mostly during 1855-1859. It is possible that Nemcova, who struggled with financial problems, could have sold some of her books (and gained other ones).

Since some books were found at the Literary Archive of the Museum of Czech Literature after Dora Nemcova gave her mother´s left estate to Museum at Ceska Skalice and since Marie Zahorova-Nemcova seems to have also possessed some Nemcova´s books, we may ask, how many books could have been "lost" in this way. Out of nearly 350 items of Bozena Nemcova library, only a small part remains today. The list of her library, however, helps us to put together a picture of Bozena Nemcova at the time when she cherished and treasured her library. Many information about Bozena Nemcova as a reader can be found in the third part of Richard Khel´s article Bozena Nemcova-"neliterarni" published at Casopis Narodniho muzea in Prague, Historical edition, volume 171, No. 1-2 (2002), pp. 59-72.


[1] This fact was mentioned by the team of Lubomir Srsen, the Art Collections Guardian, Department of Older History of the National Museum, who came across this information during his research.

[2] This publication is included in the list of books prepared by Nemcova. 

[3] The Municipal Museum at Ceska Skalice has been established in 1902. It administered mostly regional heritage - arms, archives, regional ethnic collections, archeologic and national collections. After the purchase of Bozena Nemcova´s left estate from Nemcova´s daughter Bohdana in 1919, the Museum begun to focus specifically on the personality and work of Bozena Nemcova. (

[4] This list was not mentioned in Bozena Nemcova (1820-1862): Literarni pozustalost prepared by J. Mourkova and J. Wagner and published in 1964.

[5] M. Novotny, Knihovna Bozeny Nemcove, Marginalie: vestnik ceskych bibliofilu. 1949-1950. Vol. XXII, pp. 35-40.

[6] Journals were not included.

[7] Dra Waclawa Stanka Pitewnj Atlas do desatera tabul sestaweny a k snadnegsjmu porozumenj pitwy s pripogenym wyswetlowanjm obrazu published in Prague in 1840?

[8] These are probably Gogol´s short stories published in Prague in 1847 by Jaroslav Pospisil.

[9] Most probably poems by German writer and novelist Oskar Ludwig Bernhard Wolff (1799-1851).

[10] Vaclav Sladecek, a spiritual administrator of a small parish at Vseruby. (At the time of Nemcova´s visit this was a Czech enclave within a German speaking region.)