The Byron Collection of Francis Lewis Randolph (1951-1974)
Francis Lewis Randolph was born in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania in 1951 to parents who quickly identified and encouraged his collecting tastes. Frank, as he was known to those close to him, began to fulfill his tendencies at nine when he decided to collect ancient Egyptian artifacts. His interest in ancient civilizations deepened throughout his teenage years and at fourteen, no longer satisfied scouring through dealers' shops, he joined an expedition in Italy to spend a summer sifting through Etruscan shards. Randolph was at the same time devouring literature at an amazing rate. At a friend's house, he was allowed to sit at Lord Byron's own writing-desk, an event which elevated that great poet above all others in Randolph's world-view. Randolph quickly realized that Byron was a difficult author to collect, his books being available in numerous editions, issues, states and variants. Randolph rose to the challenge, however, and amassed the distinguished Byron collection that is here offered. Randolph established the Byron Society of America, published its Journal and organized the important exhibition of Byroniana at the University of Pennsylvania to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the poet's death. While he attended Swarthmore and Princeton, he pursued his desire to compile a new and comprehensive Byron bibliography, updating that of Thomas J. Wise from 1932-33. The work unfortunately was left incomplete when Randolph died suddenly at the age of 22.