The Country House Library Mark Purcell

Publication date:
27 Aug 2019
Yale University Press
352 pages: 267 x 216mm
150 color + 50 b-w illus.
Sales territories:

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. 

Mark Purcell is deputy director of Cambridge University Library and was the former libraries curator to the National Trust. 

“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

“Magisterial (and beautifully illustrated)”—David Jenkins, Tatler

“For those who love books and the libraries in which they are stored this book is an essential volume to own.”—Social & Personal

"As a whole, this book is a tremendous achievement."—John Goodall, Country Life

"beautifully written, cogently argued and lavishly illustrated book"—Jason McElligott, Irish Arts Review

Included in the Irish Independent end of year list for 2017.

"boundlessly informative"—David Ekserdjian, Evening Standard

"Its title is unassuming, but it constitutes, in fact, a significant contribution to the scholarly discipline of book history."—Alexandra Marracini, TLS

"the definitive account of the country house library in Britain and Ireland"—Matthew Sanders, Ancient Monuments Society Newsletter

"beautifully produced and gorgeously, lavishly illustrated"—Leah Galbraith, Fiction Fan blog

"And with 150 magnificent colour plates is it really only £45? Buy it quickly before the publishers notice their mistake."—Stephen Halliday, Times Higher Education Supplement

“This is a ground-breaking book […] a cracking good read.” – John Martin Robinson, Literary Review.

“[An] all-encompassing study” —Jeremy Musson, Art Newspaper

“This book is the first major work to redress this imbalance and to put the contents of the library into its proper context” —Robert L. Betteridge, EBS

“Beautifully illustrated with striking new photography, together with historical paintings and engravings, the book provides an outstanding overview of this important and strangely neglected subject.”—James W.P. Campbell, The Burlington Magazine

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