Little Red Books have been in the news recently with Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell raising eyebrows in the House of Commons by reading passages from Chairman Mao during the Autumn Statement.

Radio 4's Broadcasting House decided to do a follow up and came into The London Library to interview our Archive Librarian Helen O'Neill to find out more about the history and magnificence of small and miniature books.

In a fascinating five minute interview Helen takes us through some of The London Library's collection.

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Featured books include 16th century Latin and Spanish Bibles; the UK's smallest authorised Bible, dating from 1896 and coming with its own magnifying glass; and one of our earliest small books printed in 1515 by Aldus Manutius, the originator of the printed pocket book and the inventor of the space saving italic typeface. Helen also discusses the beautifully illustrated A Simple Story by actress and novelist Elizabeth Inchbold.

Describing the collection as "a feast for the eyes" Presenter Paddy O'Connell marvels at some of the craftsmanship on display.Touring the Library, he records the silence in the Reading Room (a creaky floorboard is a good sign of our 175 year heritage!) and delights at the smell of books in the central bookstacks - "the smell here is gorgeous; breathe in this smell and you feel a lot more well-read than when you came in!"

Find out more about our collection of small and miniature books in our latest blog.

 

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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.

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.” 

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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.”

  

TSEliot64Wilton’s Music Hall was the evocative venue for a literary treat last night as Jeremy Irons, Fiona Shaw, Simon Russell Beale, Sinéad Cusack and Ben Whishaw came together for a special performance to celebrate the work of T.S. Eliot and help raise funds for The London Library where T.S. Eliot had been President for 13 years up to his death in 1965.

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