Wednesday, December 27, 2017

The Country House Library by Mark Purcell

book cover
The Country House Library
by Mark Purcell

ISBN-13: 9780300227406
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Yale University Press
Released: Oct. 31, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Beginning with new evidence that cites the presence of books in Roman villas and concluding with present day vicissitudes of collecting, this generously illustrated book presents a complete survey of British and Irish country house libraries. Replete with engaging anecdotes about owners and librarians, the book features fascinating information on acquisition bordering on obsession, the process of designing library architecture, and the care (and neglect) of collections.

The author also disputes the notion that these libraries were merely for show, arguing that many of them were profoundly scholarly, assembled with meticulous care, and frequently used for intellectual pursuits. For those who love books and the libraries in which they are collected and stored, The Country House Library is an essential volume to own.

My Review:
The Country House Library looks at privately owned books in Britain and Ireland from the Roman Britain villas in the 1st century to the country house (and town house) libraries of more recent times. The author talked about the types of reading material, including information like the languages they were written in, the materials used, how they were stored and organized, and how they acquired. He also explored where the books were kept and the furnishings in those rooms (if known). He talked about known private book collections--who owned them, how many (or what value of) books they owned, and significant or commonly-owned titles in those collections. He also talked about what happened to various collections, like destruction in fires or dispersal through selling, inheritance, and such.

The author also talked about changes in how and why books were acquired, the types of books deemed desirable, how books were stored, and such. He included people's descriptions of various collections and rooms to give an idea of how people viewed these collections at the time. This book included beautiful, full-color pictures of libraries, significant books, and paintings that show people reading books. There was enough focus on changes in collecting habits, storage, and such that I found the book very interesting.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

No comments: