Lately, I have been spending most of my weekends at The British Library, alternating between practicing Spanish and reading for my Masters in Museums and Gallery studies.
For anyone who has visited The British Library, you will know that it is a national library of international significance which holds a copy of every single book ever produced in the UK and Ireland. You will also know that a tall glass structure proudly dominates the centre of the library, encasing thousands of beautifully bound books dating from the 15th to 19th century.
Lost in thought, my eyes frequently gaze at the perfectly lit books enshrined in their glass casing. Until very recently, I never questioned to whom these books belonged, believing it was a curated display of some of the library’s finest collections. Yet, every single one belonged to King George III.
On the advice of his librarian, Frederick Augusta Barnard, and Dr Samuel Johnson, King George amassed a rich and varied collection of classic literature, religious writings and historical texts throughout his reign. At the time of his death in 1820, his collection contained around 65,000 printed books, 19,000 pamphlets and numerous manuscripts and maps.
At first housed in the British Museum from 1828, followed by a brief stint at the Bodleian Library in Oxford during World War II, the books came to the British Library in 1998 where they are still consulted by readers today.