About Us

With more than one million books and periodicals in over 50 languages, the collection includes works from the 16th century to the latest publications in print and electronic form.


Pushkin Montage 3In time for Christmas, The London Library has joined forces with Pushkin Press to co-produce a second batch of beautifully designed books containing fascinating and quirky material from the Library’s amazing collection.

The books in this second Found on the Shelves series have not been in print for decades and have been chosen to give a fascinating insight into the unexpected treasures that can be found on our shelves.

Covering topics including the art of drinking in the 19th century, the thrill of the first hot air balloon flight, how to master Victorian social etiquette, intrepid Victorian hikes, and boxing tutorials from George Bernard Shaw’s personal instructor, the collection is an esoteric adventure back in time.

The books are edited by The London Library’s Librarian Inez Lynn and Head of Bibliographic Services Dunia Garcìa-Ontiveros as well as by Pushkin Press’s Julia Nicholson. Jacket designs have been produced by acclaimed designer David Pearson.

The six new ‘Found on the Shelves’ titles are:

They join the popular first series which consisted of 6 equally varied and entertaining titles:

Pushkin group 2Together this fascinating, entertaining and humorous collection makes an ideal Christmas gift for any book lover with an appetite for the quirky and unexpected. 

Each book is between 64 and 128 pages long and priced at just £4.99 (ex postage).The full batch of 6 titles in each series costs £27.50 and the complete set of all 12 Found on the Shelves books costs £50. 


Books in sunlight 200x200A gift membership is the perfect present to enjoy all year round - and is also a great way of supporting The London Library. There really is no better literary gift for your friends and family this Christmas!

SPOUSE MEMBERSHIP - share your passion for the written word with someone you love, for half the usual annual fee. Spouse Membership is £20.66 a month (£248 annually).

YOUNG PERSON’S MEMBERSHIP - encourage the love of books in your children, godchildren or grandchildren this Christmas. Young Person's Membership (16 - 24 year olds) is £20.66 a month (£248 annually).

Individual and Life Memberships can also be given as a gift.

£50 & £100 GIFT VOUCHERS - contribute towards the cost of a friend or family member’s Library membership with a London Library Membership Gift Voucher.

A GIFT FOR YOU - If you purchase a Gift Membership for someone special this Christmas, you will receive a £50 Gift Voucher towards the cost of your next membership renewal fee as a mark of our thanks.*

www.londonlibrary.co.uk/join or ask at Reception

Registered charity number 312175

* Offer valid on gift memberships bought before 31 December 2016. Terms and conditions apply, please see www.londonlibrary.co.uk/2016gift for details.

Hawthornden image cropTessa Hadley was named as the winner of this year’s Hawthornden Prize at an award ceremony held at The London Library yesterday (5th July 2016)

Her award was presented by writer and Man Booker Prize winner Alan Hollinghurst (The Line of Beauty, The Stranger’s Child) who spoke warmly of Tessa’s contribution to fiction which has included 6 bestselling novels and a range of short stories.

The Hawthornden Prize was established in 1919 and shares the honour of being Britain’s oldest literary award. Previous winners have included Colm Tóibín, Ali Smith, Alan Bennett, Claire Tomalin, VS Naipaul, Ted Hughes, Graham Greene, Evelyn Waugh, and Vita Sackville-West.

The Hawthornden Prize is granted annually for a work published in the previous twelve months and this year’s award recognised Tessa’s most recent work – The Past – which was published in 2015.  

Tessa Hadley has been awarded and nominated for a range of awards during her writing career and earlier this year was awarded the Windham–Campbell Literature Prize for fiction.

2016 is a momentous year for The London Library, marking 175 years since it first opened its doors in 1841.

In recognition of this milestone we have launched a special appeal, to enable Library supporters to mark the anniversary and raise funds to help develop our most fundamental activities.

For 175 years the Library has supported reading, writing and research and has built up a unique collection of over 1 million books which can almost all be borrowed. It has done this as an entirely independent institution, funded by membership fees and donations. Membership fees enable us to the meet the Library’s operating costs but we rely on additional donations to fund vital work in developing our collection, our building and the services we are able to offer.

The 175 Appeal is designed to help the Library ensure that our resources can be used to their fullest. Donations will help the Library:

  • Develop its collection through acquisition of new books, ensuring we can offer the best of the new titles that appear each year
  • Conserve the collection and ensure that our books – many of which are centuries old – can be kept in usable and borrowable condition
  • Ensure that our collection is effectively catalogued and accessible through Catalyst, our on-line catalogue and discovery tool
  • Facilitate wider access to our collection – for example through lending books via the Inter Library Loan scheme or enabling access to those who otherwise could not afford it.

Philip Spedding, Development Director at The London Library commented, “Our 175th anniversary is a great time to celebrate what the Library has achieved over the last 175 years. But it is also an important time to focus on the future development of our collection and the services we provide. We hope that through The 175 Appeal and the fantastic support we receive from countless individuals and organisations that we can raise vital funds to enable the Library to continue enhancing its collection and the unique role it plays. All of which, we think, would meet with the wholehearted approval of our founder, the great Scottish writer Thomas Carlyle”.


Simon Callow


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