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Old English Libraries   By: (1877-1966)

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WITH the arrangement and equipment of libraries this essay has little to do: the ground being already covered adequately by Dr. Clark in his admirable monograph on The Care of Books. Herein is described the making, use, and circulation of books considered as a means of literary culture. It seemed possible to throw a useful sidelight on literary history, and to introduce some human interest into the study of bibliography, if the place held by books in the life of the Middle Ages could be indicated. Such, at all events, was my aim, but I am far from sure of my success in carrying it out; and I offer this book merely as a discursive and popular treatment of a subject which seems to me of great interest.

The book has suffered from one unhappy circumstance. It was planned in collaboration with my friend Mr. James Hutt, M.A., but unfortunately, owing to a breakdown of health, Mr. Hutt was only able to help me in the composition of the chapter on the Libraries of Oxford, which is chiefly his work. Had it been possible for Mr. Hutt to share all the labour with me, this book would have been put before the public with more confidence.

More footnote references appear in this volume than in most of the series of "Antiquary's Books." One consideration specially urged me to take this course. The subject has been treated briefly, and it seemed essential to cite as many authorities as possible, so that readers who were in the mood might obtain further information by following them up.

In a book covering a long period and touching national and local history at many points, I cannot hope to have escaped errors; and I shall be grateful if readers will bring them to my notice.

I need hardly say I am especially indebted to the splendid work accomplished by Dr. Montague Rhodes James, the Provost of King's College, in editing The Ancient Libraries of Canterbury and Dover, and in compiling the great series of descriptive catalogues of manuscripts in Cambridge and other colleges. I have long marvelled at Dr. James' patient research; at his steady perseverance in an aim which, even when attained as it now has been could only win him the admiration and esteem of a few scholars and lovers of old books.

I have to thank Mr. Hutt for much general help, and for reading all the proof slips. To Canon C. M. Church, M.A., of Wells, I am indebted for his kindness in answering inquiries, for lending me the illustration of the exterior of Wells Cathedral Library, and for permitting me to reproduce a plan from his book entitled Chapters in the Early History of the Church of Wells. The Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire have kindly allowed me to reproduce a part of their plan of Birkenhead Priory. Illustrations were also kindly lent by the Clarendon Press, the Cambridge University Press, Mr. John Murray, Mr. Fisher Unwin, the Editor of The Connoisseur, and Mr. G. Coffey, of the Royal Irish Academy. A small portion of the first chapter has appeared in The Library, and is reprinted by kind permission of the editors. Mr. C. W. Sutton, M.A., City Librarian of Manchester, has been in every way kind and patient in helping me. So too has Mr. Strickland Gibson, M.A., of the Bodleian Library, especially in connexion with the chapter on Oxford Libraries. Thanks are due also to the Deans of Hereford, Lincoln, and Durham, to Mr. Tapley Soper, City Librarian of Exeter, and to Mr. W. T. Carter, Public Librarian of Warwick; also to my brother, V. M. Savage, for his drawings. The general editor of this series, the Rev. J. Charles Cox, LL.D., F.S.A., gave me much help by reading the manuscript and proofs; and I am grateful to him for many courtesies and suggestions.



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