Zsuzsanna Bethlen (1754-97) was the daughter of Domokos Bethelen de Iktár and Mária Wesselényi. She was introduced to Sámuel Teleki at the age of 14, then on 19th February 1770 they married.
Though they had nine children, only three of them (Domokos, Ferenc, Mária) have survived to reach adult age. Her interest in books started due to the influence of her grandparents and it became a true passion in the years after her marriage. She was only 43 when she passed away.
While her husband’s library was made up mostly of books written in foreign languages (Latin, German, French etc.), Zsuzsanna Bethlen collected about 1,200 books written in Hungarian. Today this is the only 18th century collection in Transylvania that was compiled by a woman and was preserved as a whole. The Chancellor has made his wife’s books available to the public, having also been included in the third volume of his library’s catalogue. Even today, this collection is handled as a separate unit and can be seen in the anteroom of the library’s main hall. The value of this collection is enhanced by the fact that it is the result of three generations’ interest in books, reflecting the trends in book collecting, since Zsuzsanna Bethlen’s library also contains the volumes she inherited from her grandmother, Zsuzsanna Rhédei and from her aunt, Kata Wesselényi. Since in the time this collection also had the role of a family library, besides the mostly religious books, there are a great number of volumes that deal with everyday problems and offer guidance in life.
Out of the 1.500 volumes of old Hungarian prints (published before 1711) housed by the Teleki-Bolyai Library, more than 300 were originally part of Zsuzsanna Bethlen’s collection; such as two copies of the first Bible in Hungarian, as well as several unique books.