Contributed by Kimberly Embleton
Dr. Harry Stone, a renowned Victorian literature scholar, taught in the Department of English at CSUN for 32 years. Dr. Stone may have retired from his beloved CSUN in 1992, but his legacy will live on at the Oviatt Library through a unique and generous gift.
Raised by an Oxford University graduate father, Dr. Stone was fostered with an early love of literature. Growing up in a house that contained the complete works of Charles Dickens, Dr. Stone discovered his passion for books as a teenager. He read the complete works of Dickens by the age of 14 and began collecting books and materials relating to Dickens before he finished high school. He then went on to study literature at UCLA, earning a doctorate with his dissertation on Dickens, starting a truly lifelong pursuit of all things Dickens.
Over the years, Dr. Stone’s passion for Dickens continued and his respected scholarship on the subject flourished. During his distinguished career, he wrote or edited nine books on Dickens. He opened up the world of Charles Dickens to the thousands of CSUN students who passed through his classroom. His acquisition of Dickens materials continued and over the years has become one of the largest collections of Dickens memorabilia. Dr. Stone’s is absolutely one of the best private collections of Dickensiana in the world. Included are not just many first editions of the author, but also Dickens’s personal letters, documents, proof sheets and photographs. At almost 2000 items it is a real Dickensian treasure trove.
Some of these valuable items were on display in an exhibit at the Oviatt in 2003. Those pieces and the rest of his precious collection will eventually find a permanent home at the Oviatt. Dr. Stone and his family have generously bequeathed this incredible collection to CSUN’s library. “We are extremely honored that the Oviatt Library will be the recipient of Dr. Stone’s prestigious Dickens collection, one of the largest of its kind in the world,” says Oviatt Library Dean Mark Stover. “The Library is privileged to care for this wonderful gift and steward this important scholarly collection which will be studied and analyzed by current and future CSUN students and faculty, along with visiting scholars, and preserved for generations yet to come.”
This rich and important scholarly gift will draw research interest for many years. No doubt Victorian literature, popular culture, and history scholars will come from all over the world to learn from this wonderful, and largely heretofore unseen, collection. Through CSUN and the Oviatt Library, Dr. Stone is sharing his incredible research with the world.
So to Dr. Harry Stone, the Oviatt agrees wholeheartedly with the apt words of his much loved Charles Dickens, “Once a gentleman, and always a gentleman.”