Miræus lectures, Wednesday 23 January 2013
Mark Purcell (National Trust)
It is well known that great aristocratic houses all over Europe once contained magnificent libraries. What is less well known - at least in Continental Europe - is that many hundreds of these libraries still exist in historic houses all over England, Scotland and Wales. Over 300,000 books survive in more than 150 libraries and are in the care of the National Trust, despite the name not a government body, but a private charity established in the late nineteenth century. Others belong to smaller private foundations, and others still have remained in private ownership.
Astonishingly, very few of these libraries have ever been the subject of serious study. Over the last twelve years National Trust's Libraries Curator, Mark Purcell, has been organising the compilation of a full-scale electronic catalogue of its books (mounted online on Copac, the United Kingdom Union Catalogue), and he is now working on a full-scale study of libraries in British and Irish country houses.
This lavishly-illustrated lecture will explore some of the emerging themes. What is already clear is that the collections not only contain remarkable books, but that collectively the libraries have much to tell us about the history of libraries, books, book collecting and reading.
Mark Purcell has been Libraries Curator to the National Trust since 1999. He originally read History at Oriel College, Oxford, trained at University College London, and has published extensively on the history of books and libraries in early modern Britain and Ireland.
Venue: Nottebohm Hall of the Erfgoedbibliotheek Hendrik Conscience
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The Miræus Lectures are an initiative of the Flanders Book Historical Society and are supported by the Antwerp Bibliophile Society and the Erfgoedbibliotheek Hendrik Conscience.