For 2021 I am starting a new segment of my newsletter – ‘Meet a Book Addict’. I’d like to introduce you to some fellow readers and book collectors from the past and the present.
Richard Heber (1773 – 1833) was an amazing collector. Fortunately, he was born to wealth, so was able to indulge his passion to the full. I’ve always loved this comment that he made: “No gentleman can be without three copies of a book, one for show, one for use, and one for borrowers.” Heber began collecting books as a child, at first purchasing classical volumes, but soon moving on to early English drama and literature. He invested in rare volumes and became a founder of the Roxburghe Club of Bibliophiles. He was also one of the founders of the Athenaeum Club in London. Heber owned several houses and rapidly filled them with books. He travelled in Europe, buying as he went, and his library overran his homes in England and the Continent.
When Heber died it is thought he was the possessor of nearly 150,000 books, plus a large collection of pamphlets. The books were sold at auction and the sales went on for 216 days.
I do wonder how many of the books he owned Richard Heber actually got to read? He never married and the life of this man seems to have been entirely dedicated to books. I think it would have been fascinating to meet him!
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