Close Notification

Your cart does not contain any items

'A sweeping, absorbing history, deeply researched, of that extraordinary and enduring phenomenon: the library' - Richard Ovenden, author of Burning the Books: A History of Knowledge under Attack

Famed across the known world, jealously guarded by private collectors, built up over centuries, destroyed in a single day, ornamented with gold leaf and frescoes or filled with bean bags and children's drawings - the history of the library is rich, varied and stuffed full of incident.

In this, the first major history of its kind, Andrew Pettegree and Arthur der Weduwen explore the contested and dramatic history of the library, from the famous collections of the ancient world to the embattled public resources we cherish today. Along the way, they introduce us to the antiquarians and philanthropists who shaped the world's great collections, trace the rise and fall of fashions and tastes, and reveal the high crimes and misdemeanours committed in pursuit of rare and valuable manuscripts..

By:   ,
Imprint:   Profile
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Edition:   Main
Dimensions:   Height: 198mm,  Width: 126mm,  Spine: 34mm
Weight:   440g
ISBN:   9781788163439
ISBN 10:   1788163435
Pages:   528
Publication Date:  
Audience:   College/higher education ,  Professional and scholarly ,  General/trade ,  Primary ,  Undergraduate
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Andrew Pettegree is Professor of Modern History at the University of St Andrews and one of the leading experts on Europe during the Reformation. He is the author of the prize-winning Book in the Renaissance and The Invention of News, among other publications. He is a former Vice-President of the Royal Historical Society and the founding director of the Universal Short Title Catalogue. Arthur der Weduwen is a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow and Deputy Director of the Universal Short Title Catalogue project at St Andrews. He is the author of several books on the history of newspapers, advertising and publishing. He owns a small library of seventeenth and eighteenth-century books, which, as the research for The Library has shown, is probably doomed to be dispersed.

Reviews for The Library: A Fragile History

Outstanding ... a history of libraries from the ancient world to yesterday, it is fetchingly produced and scrupulously researched - a perfect gift for bibliophiles everywhere -- Professor John Carey * The Sunday Times * This history of the library, from the Assyrians to the digital age, is itself a wonderful collection of knowledge ... a book full of fascination and ultimately one of optimism, too -- Michael Prodger * New Statesman * This sweeping bookish history has something for everyone ... it is a glorious reminder that books are borderless and boundless and libraries priceless, in all senses -- Lucy Atkins, Best literary non-fiction books 2021 * The Times * Excellent ... rigorous but riveting history -- Dennis Duncan * Spectator * Timely ... a long and engrossing survey of the library that shows how adaptable and creative libraries have been over time * FT * Despite [a] staggering range, the authors manage never to seem in a rush, or to skimp on incidental detail ... holding it all together is a keen eye for stories of individual lives that are representative of something larger ... [a] sweeping history -- James Waddell * Times Literary Supplement * A sweeping, absorbing history, deeply researched, of that extraordinary and enduring phenomenon: the library -- Richard Ovenden, author * Burning the Books: A History of Knowledge Under Attack * What is a 'library'? Is it a mute display of personal wealth and power, or of a humble devotion to God? A routine community resource, or a waste of taxpayers' money? In The Library, we are led nimbly through the centuries, seeing how it has been all of these things and more, as the authors place on the shelf a cornucopia of bookish history. -- Judith Flanders, author * A Place for Everything: The Curious History of Alphabetical Order * Comprehensive without being miscellaneous, lively without being anecdotal, this sweeping history of libraries shows how central this institution has been to every aspect of human culture. At a time when libraries and librarians are proving themselves to be more important and more resilient than ever before, this whirlwind tour of the different forms that libraries have taken at different times and places will educate and inspire in equal measure. -- Leah Price, founder of the Rutgers Book Initiative at Rutgers University and author, * What We Talk About When We Talk About Books * Magnificently researched and compendious * Tablet * Enthralling ... fittingly, The Library is a handsomely presented and reasonably priced book, with plenty of informative colour plates. The authors' erudition, reflected in a huge bibliography, is carried lightly, and their story is told with wit and wisdom ... A hair-raising journey through the long history of libraries -- Michael Wheeler * Church Times * Libraries have had a long and varied history ... This globetrotting book charts their stories -- Book of the Month * BBC History Revealed *

  • Long-listed for HWA Non-Fiction Crown 2022 (UK)

See Also