The Country House Library
"Its title is unassuming, but its constitutes, in fact, a significant contribution to the scholarly discipline of book history."
The Library is often the most spectacular room in British and Irish country houses, but until recently its history and its contents have frequently been ignored or misunderstood. This lavishly illustrated book sets the record straight, presenting for the first time a complete survey of libraries in country houses iver the last two thousand years. It explores the story of the men and women who kept books in medieval and Tudor closets and studies; who built libraries through the early modern period and fell prey to the reggency crazy of bibliomania; and of the sale of many libraries since the late nineteenth century, as asrisocratic families struggled to cope with agricultural depression, war and punitive taxation. Based on ground-breaking research, the author challenges the notion that private libraries were bought mostly for show, demonstrating that they were assembled with meticulous care, and were used both for intellectual pursuits and as tools for every day living - not just by their owners, but by neighbours, dependants and friends at a time before public libraries provided access for all. For anyone who loves books and is fascinated by the history of the country house, this is an essential volume to own.
"A well-researched book. The range is breathtaking [and] a cracking good read."