In addition to numerous works of law and theology, Johann Caspar Goethe’s library also included a wide selection of literature from antiquity to the present. There were also travel reports, historical accounts, and non-fiction works on a great variety of areas of life, from midwifery to housekeeping. A special emphasis was on works about Frankfurt’s culture and the city’s history.
Here, the young Goethe was able to find many ideas for his own literary work.
Before his mother sold the house in 1795, she sold her husband’s book collection. But she had a precise catalogue compiled that makes it possible to largely reconstruct the library.
I had found only the older poets in my father’s library, particularly the ones who had gradually emerged and grown famous at his time. All had used rhyme, and my father held that rhyme is indispensable to poems. Canitz, Hagedorn, Drollinger, Gellert, Creuz, and Haller stood side by side in a row of fine calfskin volumes. Next to them were Neukirch’s Telemachus, Kopp’s Jerusalem Delivered, and other translations. From childhood on, I had avidly read and partially memorized all these books, for which reason I was frequently called on to entertain our guests.
Goethe: From My Life. Poetry and Truth, part 1 , book 2