A list of my books: a detailed analysis of a 1730s personal library

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The anonymous private library catalogues that are the subject of this essay offer a valuable insight into British book culture in the 1730s, and provide further evidence to support the emphasis on sociability in accounts of eighteenth-century book culture. As Naomi Tadmor and James Raven have argued, while the private lending and borrowing of books, fostered by the growing number of personal libraries in the eighteenth century, provided opportunities for private, silent and individual acts of reading, they did so ways that also supported social interactions, strengthened social ties, and encouraged a form of communal reading. The eight-page, folio manuscript titled "A List of My Books" - actually two manuscript "lists" of a small private book collection - names twelve people as book-borrowers and provides evidence that a significant proportion of the books were circulated among family, friends and acquaintances. The few clues that the manuscript contains concerning the author of the catalogues, its composition and use, suggest that it may have been created by an adolescent or young adult from an affluent family, who had been living away from the family home for an extended period (or extended periods), and was anxious to record his or her ownership of the books and to keep a track of the books lent out while away.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)92-104
Number of pages13
JournalScript & Print: Bulletin of the Bibliographical Society of Australia and New Zealand
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Book history
  • Literary studies
  • Eighteenth-Century Literature

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