Conference | National Trust Libraries: Mobility and Exchange

Posted in conferences (to attend) by Editor on November 11, 2012

National Trust Libraries: Mobility and Exchange in Great House Collections
Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, 1 February 2013

Hosted by the University of Cambridge Centre for Material Texts

This one-day event will take as its starting point the recent opening to wider research of a number of significant great house private libraries in the United Kingdom, thanks to the on-going cataloguing work being undertaken by the National Trust. Papers and discussion will treat themes including the migration of books and ideas in and out of libraries; communities of the library (how ‘private’ was a private library?); libraries as repositories of cultural history. Attendance is free, but registration is required. Please contact Dunstan Roberts (dcdr2@cam.ac.uk) or Abigail Brundin (asb17@cam.ac.uk) for more information.

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Some background from the Centre for Material Texts at Cambridge:

National Trust Libraries: Pilot Project at Belton House, Lincolnshire

The National Trust owns and manages over 150 properties in the UK that contain collections of books, the majority still housed in the buildings where they were assembled and read by their original owners. Between forty and fifty of the libraries in National Trust properties have been described as being of ‘major national significance’ (Purcell and Shenton, 2005), constituting an unparalleled resource for the study of the history of private book ownership in the United Kingdom. The process of cataloguing the major libraries is ongoing, and the results are being made available to researchers on the COPAC Catalogue as they become available. This pilot study showcases the research potential of these exciting collections, which form an important part of our national cultural heritage.

The study investigates the place of Italian books in an English great house, Belton House in Lincolnshire. Belton houses the Trust’s second largest library (over 11,000 titles), assembled by successive generations of the Brownlow family, and the collection has now been fully catalogued. 229 works are in Italian, published between 1500 and 1800, across a variety of genres and subjects. Analysis of the Italian holdings will form the basis for two themed workshops. The first, to be hosted by the CMT in Cambridge in the summer of 2012, will explore the curatorship of great house libraries, in discussion with the curators themselves. The second, to be held at Belton early in 2013, will explore the theme of cultural mobility in the early modern library, considering the social, cultural and intellectual histories of continental books in English collections. An exhibition of Italian books will be held at Belton, displaying the connections between book and place for a general audience.

The PI for this project is Abigail Brundin (Department of Italian). The RA is Dunstan Roberts.

Update (15 June 2012): The AHRC has just awarded us a Research Networking Grant in relation to this project… more information to follow.

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