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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.


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The latest issue of The London Library’s magazine is now available on-line and contains the usual fascinating mix of articles and insights by leading writers and thinkers - all of whom are Library members.

  • Renowned historical biographer Flora Fraser looks at some of the Library’s books and eLibrary resources that have helped shape her latest biography George and Martha Washington: A Revolutionary Marriage.

Writer and Actor Ian Kelly’s play Mr Foote’s Other Leg is currently showing at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket. He writes about how largely forgotten works in The London Library’s Literature Collection were the crucial chain of events that led him to write the play about the life of Samuel Foote - the most celebrated entertainer in Georgian London.

Philip Hook is a Director and Senior Paintings Specialist at Sothebys and is also a Trustee of The London Library. His article explores some of his favourite journals written by artists over the centuries, including Delacroix, Paul Klee and Andy Warhol.

Peter Stothard is Editor of the TLS, an author, and was Editor of The Times between 1992 and 2002. Here he turns his hands to reviewing the Library’s wonderfully varied Birds section featuring bold and glossy plates by JJ Audobon, Edward Lear and Peter Scott as well as 900 more modest but much loved books on the subject.

In his article Cities Built on Books Canadian writer Alberto Manguel looks at the ways in which books have shaped the identity of the places in which explorers, settlers and migrants have lived. The Spanish conquistadores carried with them the works of their age, shaping their interpretation of the world they were discovering. Mendoza and his men brought with them a small collection of books and a harrowing account of their settlement of Buenos Aires recorded their privations. The 10th century Grand Vizier of Persia would transport his library of 117,000 titles on the back of 400 camels.  In the Syrian refugee camps in Turkey, tents have been set up as makeshift book rooms. As Manguel writes, “Our constant migrations are pinpointed by reading. As exiles, as explorers, as refugees, as settlers we carry books in our chattel. Our ancestors brought with them cattle, tents, grains, weapons, but also their libraries. We travel with our paperbacks or kindles. The custom is very ancient.”

As well as a great read, The London Library Magazine is also a great way to catch up on other news about the Library, including finding out about the schedule of forthcoming Member events and our emerging plans for our 175th anniversary which we will be celebrating next year.

Books in sunlight 200x200Anyone who loves books will love The London Library and gift membership is a perfect way to make a book lover’s Christmas truly special.

The Library has been at the heart of literary life for nearly 175 years and members ranging from George Eliot, Charles Dickens, TS Eliot, EM Forster and Virginia Woolf have all worked, written and created here. The tradition goes on and The Library today is a unique home for anyone who loves the written word.

Membership to this great literary oasis brings access to fantastic on-line resources and a collection of over one million books dating from 1700 to the present day – all of which are available for borrowing. Housed in an elegant and striking building overlooking St James’s Square in London, The London Library is a bibliophile’s paradise boasting a history that can be felt in every inch of its 17 miles of bookshelves.

The range and quality of the collection, the freedom to browse 17 miles of book stacks and the Library’s stylish and evocative ambience make it a truly unique place to read, research and relax. Membership is open to everyone and brings a wealth of benefits:

  • More than one million books to browse, borrow and enjoy at leisure
  • Extensive journal and periodical subscriptions from Modern Language Review to The New Yorker
  • A wealth of online resources from academic journals (including access to JSTOR) to Who's Who online
  • Extremely generous loan periods, advance ordering of books and a postal loans service anywhere within the UK and Europe
  • Late opening until 8pm three evenings a week
  • Four attractive reading rooms or a choice of individual study spaces
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Quarterly members' magazine
  • Member offers & discounts at a range of organisations

Annual membership costs just £41 per month and is the perfect way to wish Merry Christmas a million times over! 

Find out more about how to give gift membership.

The London Library is famous for its extraordinary collection of a million books, but we do a rather nice line in Christmas cards too!

Owl Card

This year is no exception and a beautiful new card, specially designed for us by illustrator and designer Kate Forrester is now on sale.

Owl in window1 crop 3Kate’s design takes its inspiration from The London Library’s very own wise owl that sits quietly on the fourth floor among the Victorian bookstacks overlooking St James’s Square.

Daily this watchful owl observes members as they enter the Library and deters any pigeons that take too close an interest in the Library’s window sills.

Our owl Christmas cards come in packs of 8 and cost £4.50 per pack (including envelopes) when bought at The London Library’s reception and £5 per pack when purchased via our on-line shop (envelopes, P&P included).

All proceeds raise vital funds for the Library and make a great way of saying Merry Christmas One and All!

And if you need anything for the Hootenanny …

howard davies 2Sir Howard Davies formally took on the role of Chairman at The London Library’s AGM today (3rd November), following his appointment earlier this year by the Library’s Board of Trustees.

Sir Howard becomes Chairman at an exciting time in the Library's development. The Library will be celebrating its 175th anniversary in May 2016 and in the New Year will be announcing a programme of activities to mark this milestone, as well as unveiling the detail of a new capital campaign to support the planned expansion and refurbishment of its historic bookstacks and the creation of an additional Reading Room and Members’ Room. 

Sir Tom Stoppard, President of The London Library commented, "We are delighted to welcome Sir Howard Davies as our new Chairman. His outstanding and wide-ranging experience spanning business, government and culture will be invaluable in helping The London Library develop further its remarkable role in the UK’s cultural and literary life.” 

Bill Emmott crop

Sir Howard succeeds Bill Emmott who has been the Library’s Chairman since 2009. During Bill’s Chairmanship, the Library has continued with an impressive building and refurbishment programme which has seen the opening of award winning new working areas in the form of the Library’s spectacular Art Room, Times Room and Lightwell and the refurbishment of its much loved Reading Room and Sackler Study.

Sir Tom Stoppard paid tribute to Bill’s dedication and support for the Library: “Bill has been a wonderful ambassador for The London Library and a tireless champion of our work. During his tenure he has helped steer through the programme of expansion and refurbishment that is transforming the working spaces for our members and enhancing the facilities we offer. We are deeply grateful to him for the role he has played.”



David Lodge


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