There’s a fascinating library inside Queen Mary’s dolls’ house, which is on permanent display at Windsor Castle. The house was built between 1921 and 1924 by leading British architect Sir Edwin Lutyens. It was a gift to the Queen from the nation, and everything was constructed on a 1:12 scale.
The library is panelled in walnut and is, in miniature, the perfect room for relaxation, with books, pipe tobacco and a tiny newspaper to hand. It was Princess Marie Louise and her friend, the author E.V. Lucas, who took charge of the library. She contacted 200 of the leading authors of the day to see if they would write a tiny story especially for the library. A few, such as George Bernard Shaw and Virginia Woolf, refused, but most others obliged. How many London residences have 200 books written in their authors’ own hands?
There are books by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, A.A. Milne (who sent a copy of his poem Vespers), John Galsworthy, Rudyard Kipling (who included three poems, changed his handwriting for each one, and illustrated them in black ink), Joseph Conrad, Sir J.M. Barrie, Robert Graves, Thomas Hardy, Somerset Maugham and Vita Sackville-West.
The library also contains reference books, stamp albums, gardening books and train timetables, and the walls of the room are decorated with prints by contemporary artists. The Windsor Castle gift shop sells replicas of some of the tiny books. I have been to see the dolls’ house and of course, my favourite room was the library. However, it is a ‘show’ library, and not a room for use, which of course every library ought to be.