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.
“A book that seems long overdue. As the former longtime libraries curator for the National Trust, Purcell is singularly qualified to discuss these troves.”—Adrian Higgins, Washington Post
“Full of rich, lavish photos of both ornate and simple libraries in Irish and English country houses. Purcell’s expertise is vast . . . Anyone interested in libraries and books will treasure this elegant book.”—Kirkus Reviews (“The 2017 Kirkus Gift Book Guide”)
“A beautiful volume, sumptuously illustrated . . . If you combined Downton Abbey with books about books, this would be the delightful result.”—Rebecca Rego Barry, Fine Books and Collections
“[A] thoughtful and lavishly illustrated examination”—Art Lichtenstein, Booklist
“Purcell meticulously portrays dozens of libraries . . . each sentence has been deliberated at length and is packed with meaning . . . [A] gorgeous volume.”—Henrietta Verma, Library Journal
“A fine introduction to an important part of book history”—John Edwards, SHARP News