History seminars at the IHR

History of Libraries

A series of research seminars, which are freely open for anyone to attend, has been organized by the Institute of English Studies, the Institute of Historical Research, and the Warburg Institute, School of Advanced Study, University of London.
Most seminars take place in Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU, or in the Warburg Institute, Woburn Square, London, WC1H 0AB.
Meetings usually take place monthly during term-time on Tuesdays at 5.30 p.m.
Seminar convenors: Giles Mandelbrote (Lambeth Palace Library); Dr. Keith A. Manley (National Trust); Dr. Raphaële Mouren (Warburg Institute); Professor Isabel Rivers (Queen Mary).
The seminars are jointly sponsored by the Institute of English Studies, the Institute of Historical Research, the Warburg Institute, and the Library & Information History Group of CILIP.

For enquiries relating to this seminar please contact Jon Millington: jon.millington@sas.ac.uk

Venue: Warburg Institute, Woburn Square, London WC1H 0AB unless otherwise stated.

Time: Mainly Tuesdays, beginning at 17:30, unless otherwise indicated in the programme, below. 

Some podcasts from this seminar are available online

Summer Term 2016
DateSeminar details
5 April Scholar, courtier, magician: the lost library of John Dee` will explore the life and work of one of Tudor England's `most enigmatic figures

Katie Birkwood (Royal College of Physicians Library)

will lead a curator tour of the College’s forthcoming exhibition of books from the library of John Dee (1527-1609), the Elizabethan mathematician and astrologer.The RCP library holds the largest known extant collection of books surviving from John Dee's library, which was one of the greatest collections of its age.  This will be the first time that these books have been publicly exhibited.Please note that there will be a charge of £2.30 for this event for refreshments, payable at the Library.

Venue: The Library, Royal College of Physicians, 11 St Andrews Place, Regent’s Park, London NW1 4LE, commencing at the usual time of 5.30 p.m.

3 May 'Bibliotheca Abscondita: the Library of Sir Thomas Browne (1605-1682)

Lucy Gwynn (Queen Mary University)

Thomas Browne, Norwich physician and one of the great essayists of the seventeenth century, was drawn to the indiscriminate dissolution and ruin brought by the passage of time, as ‘the iniquity of oblivion blindly scattereth her poppy’.  His recreation of an impossible wunderkammer - the tract Musaeum clausum et bibliotheca abscondita - catalogued books, objects and artworks that had been lost to time, looting, war, and exile.  This paper will compare the narrative of incompleteness and wistful recuperation in Musaeum clausum with my project to reconstruct of the contents of Browne’s own library, now only known to us through the catalogue of its sale in 1711.  It will present evidence of Browne’s book ownership and use, and suggest ways in which Browne’s library, its contents, taxonomies and spaces, can be recovered.
Venue: Warburg Institute, Woburn Square, London, WC1H 0AB.

4 June Summer visit to Shardeloes House, Amersham, Buckinghamshire

(by kind permission of Edward Copisarow)

Work to build the present Palladian house at Shardeloes, for William Drake, began in 1758 to the plans of Stiff Leadbetter, Surveyor of St Pauls, and was completed in 1766 by Robert Adam. The library was dramatically altered again nine years later, to the design of James Wyatt, introducing continuous bookcases and a trompe l’oeil frieze by Biaggio Rebecca. Since then, no further alterations have been made.
The book collections predate the house significantly. The reading habits of William Drake of Shardeloes in the 1630s have been described by Kevin Sharpe (Reading Revolutions: The Politics of Reading in Early Modern England), while a search on ESTC for Tyrwhitt Drake provenance brings up over 300 records, mostly now at the Huntington Library. These include books from the library of Humphrey Dyson. The University of Leeds holds a manuscript catalogue of the library at Shardeloes as it was in 1730, a few years before the old Tudor pile was demolished.
          By the 1880s the household inventory shows the room furnished as a sitting library and in 1913 the photographers of Country Life captured the library with two images so well focused that, with modern digital scans, several shelves of spine labels can be deciphered. In the Second World War the house served as an emergency maternity hospital and the library, with bookcases boarded up, as the doctor’s sitting room. As the family fortunes declined, there was a library sale at Sotheby’s on 20-21 Nov. 1923 and the last of the books were removed in 1957, when the house was cleared preparatory to its planned demolition. Today the library is full again with a surprising collection of 18th and 19th century board games and associated books. As well as touring four of the five fine rooms in the house, visitors will be able to inspect copies of inventories, catalogues, photographs and architectural plans.


Saturday 4 June Summer visit to Shardeloes House, Amersham, Buckinghamshire (by kind permission of Edward Copisarow).
This event will begin at 3 p.m. and is free, but a booking must be made in advance. All wishing to attend should register at: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/history-of-libraries-summer-visit-shardeloes-house-tickets-24907546141 (or google both `Eventbrite’ and `Shardeloes’). Anyone not arriving by car should make their own way to Amersham Station. Nearer the date, details will be sent out of public transport options.

The visit will (provisionally) begin at 3 p.m., and refreshments will be available. Advance booking is essential. Further details on how to book will be posted nearer the date

7 June Samuel Pepys and the Remains of Restoration Collecting

Dr. Kate Loveman (University of Leicester)

Pepys was unusually careful when it came to controlling the fate of his collections after his death. This paper examines his behaviour in preserving his books and papers, as well as the provisions made by others in his social circle for their collections. The steps that Pepys took (or failed to take) are revealing about the uses he foresaw for his books and, in particular, for his diary of the 1660s which survived as part of his library.

Venue:  Warburg Lecture theatre, Warburg Institute, Woburn Square, London, WC1H 0AB

5 July Alice Ford-Smith will lead a new library walk: London 1708: a Walk into Library History

Alice Ford-Smith (Bernard Quaritch Ltd.)

You are invited to spend a summer evening exploring some of London’s early eighteenth century libraries. This new walk will follow in the footsteps of bookseller and antiquary John Bagford, whose An account of several libraries in and about London, for the satisfaction of the curious, both natives and foreigners was published in 1708. 
John Bagford was at the centre of London’s book trade, selling collections and helping form new ones. In the process he created a unique record of the libraries that operated in the city he loved. Alice Ford-Smith (Bernard Quaritch Ltd) will guide you through the streets and alleyways of John Bagford’s London, introducing this book history pioneer and the libraries he knew so well.

Please note: The walk will commence from the courtyard of Stationers' Hall at 5.30pm and finish approximately 90 minutes later near Barbican and St Paul’s underground stations.
Numbers are limited to 25 people, and pre-booking is essential. Tickets, which are non-refundable, are £10 each.

This event is open to all, so early booking is recommended. To book, please register through the following link: www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/london-1708-a-walk-into-library-history-tickets-25348269356