Of books and their owners

18th-century pamphlets in the Library at Dunham Massey, Cheshire. ©National Trust Images

18th-century pamphlets in the Library at Dunham Massey, Cheshire. ©National Trust Images

The colleagues at Dunham Massey have just created an online classroom called the À Ma Puissance Channel. It will feature interviews and lectures given by various experts and produced by Unity House Films, originally for the benefit of Dunham’s volunteers but now universally accessible.

First up is Mark Purcell, our libraries curator, with a brisk gallop through the different types of libraries the National Trust looks after, and the insights they provide about social and intellectual history.

Lady Mary Booth, Countess Stamford (1704-1772), who bought and read some of the books now in the Library at Dunham. ©National Trust Images/Fraser Marr

Lady Mary Booth, Countess Stamford (1704-1772), who bought and read some of the books now in the Library at Dunham. ©National Trust Images/Fraser Marr

As Mark says, the libraries in the historic houses of the National Trust contain relatively large numbers of books which would have been ordinary or even ephemeral at the time of their publication, and which for that very reason have not survived in large numbers. The collection of pamphlets at Dunham Massey is one example of such a group of rare ‘ordinary’ publications.

The Library at Anglesey Abbey, Cambridgeshire. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

The Library at Anglesey Abbey, Cambridgeshire. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

The library of the 1st Lord Fairhaven, a 20th-century millionaire bibliophile, at Anglesey Abbey is at the other end of the scale in being full of beatifully produced books. But even there the perceived value of certain books was subject to change: the first edition of Ian Fleming’s You Only Live Twice, originally bought purely for amusement, is now a valuable rarity.

Early 20th-century editions of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, with bindings by Sangorski and Sutcliffe, in the Library at Anglesey Abbey. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

Early 20th-century editions of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, with bindings by Sangorski and Sutcliffe, in the Library at Anglesey Abbey. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

Mark gives many more fascinating examples, illustrating that subtle but immensely valuable feature of historic houses: the eloquence of objects in their original settings. I am looking forward to many more such talks.

10 Responses to “Of books and their owners”

  1. PGT Says:

    as always the most informative place for me. thank you-

  2. Mark D. Ruffner Says:

    The bindings on those last two books are exquisite!

  3. Andrew Says:

    Ah, Sangorski & Sutcliffe. Sumptuous.

  4. artandarchitecturemainly Says:

    Note only are the books in the library (photo above) valuable financially and historically valuable, the library itself is wonderful. The timber shelves are endless and elegant, and the columns are dramatic. I also love the idea of comfortable chairs and good natural light make reading a pleasure.

  5. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Gaye, thank you :)

    Mark and Andrew, yes, and Anglesey Abbey has many more such sumptuous books. Mark is about to publish a book about this library, and I will feature it here when it comes out.

    Helen, indeed, and in his talk Mark touches on the architecture and decoration of libraries, and their use as family sitting rooms.

  6. deana Says:

    Goodness, I was just going to have a peek at the video but was hooked immediately and watched the whole thing in a big delicious gulp. I look forward to seeing more on the new À Ma Puissance Channel. Who knew libraries were ever stored in boxes or that a bookcase could be a small stone niche outside with books on chains? You made my day.

  7. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Deana, excellent! Yes Mark does draw you into the stories doesn’t he :)

  8. KDM Says:

    Good ol’ Mark! KDM

  9. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Indeed Keith, and you have hosted one of Mark’s talks at Ten Chimneys, so you know first hand what an engaging speaker he is.

  10. Bindy Barclay Says:

    Thank you from a hemisphere away!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 815 other followers

%d bloggers like this: