Fondo Manzoniano

Biblioteca Nazionale Braidense in Milan preserves the Manzoni Fund, the collection of Alessandro Manzoni's autographs, rare editions, letters, objects and memorabilia.

  • circa 5.000 pieces of correspondence, including about 800 autographs
  • circa 2.500 works of critique
  • circa 1.000 volumes of fine editions of the works
  • circa 550 Volumes from the library of Alessandro Manzoni, of which 200 are post-illustrated
  • circa 200 manuscripts

In July 1885 (only twelve years after Alessandro Manzoni’s death) Pietro Brambilla (husband of Vittoria, Manzoni’s granddaughter) communicated by letter to the prefect of the Braidense, Isaia Ghiron, the family’s desire to allocate the collection of Manzonian manuscripts in its possession to the Milan library. Brambilla requested, however, that the library allocate “a special room” to house Manzoni’s works “and related publications” with explicit “mention of the donation made.”

Negotiations between the donor and the Ministry of Education were quite rapid, and Prefect Ghiron urged further increases with appeals addressed to the heirs of all those who had known Manzoni. The donations were numerous and thus it was reached on November 5, 1886, in the presence of the sovereigns of Italy, the inauguration of the Sala Manzoniana set up by Lodovico Pogliaghi.

The Sala Manzoniana became, thus, too cramped for so much material. This was first deposited in the new National Center for Manzonian Studies and from there, during the last war, transferred to the Benedictine Abbey of Pontida. When hostilities ceased, the Ministry of Education arranged for the collection to be returned to the Braidense to respect the donor’s wishes. At Manzoni’s house the memorabilia and part of the iconography remained in storage.

Increasing the collection were the gift of Ercole Gnecchi (various autographs), the testamentary bequest of Giulia Costantini Manzoni (pieces of Manzonian iconography), and the Vismara collection full of many rare editions of I Promessi sposi.

Between 1924 and 1925 two important grups of manzonian works came to enrich the fund: the National Association for Southern Italy donated a considerable number of memorabilia, autographs and iconographs which belonged to Stefano Stampa, Manzoni’s step son (and from him, at his death, devises to Pio Istituto pei Figli della Provvidenza di Milano) and the engineer Federico Gentili donated a series of autographs (247 letters), books (600 items) and a great number of portraits and memorabilia which belonged to the umbelievably rich collection of the Gnecchi family and were bought at an auction in Paris, through the publisher Ulrico Hoepli, by the heirs of Mrs. Isabella Gnecchi Bozzotti.

Nowadays the manzonian collection counts 250 manuscripts (in total about 9,000 papers), 550 volumes of Manzoni’s library, 200 of which are commented, circa 5,000 pieces of correspondence, 1,000 voumes of Manzoni’s works, 1,000 volumes of critics and 1,800 items placed in miscellanea.

In the Open Shelf Room the Catalogue of the Fondo Manzoniano is available to the public.

Nowadays, the Manzonian Room is used for the reading of manuscripts and of the rare books owned by the Braidense, and of course also of the Fondo Manzoniano and the Collection of the Ricordi Hystorical Archives.

The Manzoni Online Project
The project, born from the collaboration of scholars from the Universities of Parma, Milan, Pavia, Lausanne (Switzerland), Bologna and Rome with the Biblioteca Nazionale Braidense (BNB) and the Centro Nazionale di Studi Manzoniani (CNSM) and funded by the Ministry of Research (PRIN 2015 and 2017) and the Ministry of Cultural Heritage, was dedicated to the creation of a portal dedicated to the writings and library of Alessandro Manzoni (1785-1873), which aims to offer to an audience of researchers as well as interested readers the concise presentation and cataloging of the writer’s works, manuscripts, letters and library, the latter being rich in many posthumous specimens, providing the widest possible digital reproduction of the documents.