Libraries man


Painted plaster figures of Milton, Spenser and Shakespeare after John Cheere in the Library at Ham House, Surrey. ©NTPL/John Hammond

Mark Purcell has just started a Facebook page about National Trust libraries.

Mark indulging his other passion, playing the organ, at the church of Grosshartmansdorf, Germany.

Mark is the curator who researches and advises on the NT’s libraries. His post is generously supported by the Royal Oak Foundation. On his Facebook page he talks about his travels, projects and discoveries.

A book at Smallhythe, Kent, with a transcription of a poem by William Allingham and a message from Ellen Terry scribbled on the flyleaf. ©NTPL/Layton Thompson

Mark once explained to me that old books are not just interesting for their printed content, but also for their bindings, their owners’ bookplates and even the notes scribbled in the margins. The physical state of a book can tell all sorts of stories about its owners’ lives, their interests and lifestyles.

A fold-out illustration of Stonehenge in an eighteenth-century book in the library at nearby Stourhead, Wiltshire, showing the burgeoning interest in ancient monuments. ©NTPL/John Hammond

I have previously touched on this in the post about the books at Anglesey Abbey, and what they reveal about their former owner, Lord Fairhaven.

A seventeenth-century Carew ancestor surveys the library at Antony, Cornwall. ©NTPL/Cristian Barnett

Mark also investigates the history of whole libraries: how books were collected by certain generations, sold by later generations, replaced by other collections, how library rooms were created and remodelled, and what all that means for the history of a house and a family. So do check out his page for the latest.

2 Responses to “Libraries man”

  1. Barbara Says:

    Welcome back.

  2. littleaugury Says:

    How could I resist?

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