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Dr James Willoughby: ‘An English library in Renaissance Rome’

by on February 26, 2010

On Friday, 19 February, Dr. James Willoughby (Oxford) spoke to the Seminar on the History of the Book on the library of the English hospice in Rome from 1496 until 1527. St. Thomas’ Hospice, and its library, served the needs of English pilgrims, royal envoys, commercial travellers, suitors and litigants at the curial courts, humanist scholars such as Thomas Linacre and William Lilye and English students studying in Italian universities. A remarkable surviving series of book-lists records the library’s ownership of, chiefly, scholastic, medical, legal and devotional works, in both manuscript and print. Dr. Willoughby argued that the book-lists were evidence not just for the intellectual life of the English community in Rome, but for the diffusion of print and the workings of the English book trade in the period: he demonstrated how the provenance of both manuscript and early printed books might be tracked by means of ‘secundo folio’ citations given in booklists.The library was ransacked in 1527, but exists today as part of the English seminary in Rome, retaining its manuscript records alongside a single, printed book dating from its earlier life.
The Seminar is convened at All Souls College by Prof. Ian Maclean.
— from Giles Bergel

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