Collecting the Eighteenth Century at Winchester College

Photograph of the interior of Winchester College's Eccles Room 

‘Collecting the Eighteenth Century at Winchester College’ is a research project funded by a Collaborative Doctoral Award from the AHRC.

Our research partner in the award is Winchester College, whose Fellows’ Library provides the materials investigated in the project. The doctoral researcher is Carly Watson, and the supervisors of her PhD are Dr Valerie Rumbold and Dr Kate Rumbold in the English Department at the University of Birmingham, and Dr Geoff Day, the Fellows’ Librarian at Winchester College.

This is what Carly has to say about her work:

Coat of armsBookplate of Alexander Thistlethwayte (1717?–1771).

"My research aims to uncover the history and cultural importance of a little-known eighteenth-century library. Alexander Thistlethwayte, a Hampshire gentleman and county MP, amassed a very substantial library, and before his death made a large gift of books to Winchester College. This outstanding collection mainly comprises literature in an impressive range of ancient and modern languages, from English and Dutch to Greek and Arabic. By studying the growth and make-up of this collection, I am forming a new picture of the tastes and collecting habits of a country gentleman before the ‘bibliomania’ of the late eighteenth century.

ManuscriptManuscript copy of a metrical paraphrase of Psalm 148 by James VI and I. This is one of three unpublished poems by the king that were added to the Fellows’ Library copy of his book, The Essayes of a Prentise.

The Thistlethwayte collection has many individual highlights, and I have researched several of these in some depth. One is a copy of the first book by James VI and I to be published – The Essayes of a Prentise, in the Divine Art of Poesie – containing rare manuscript copies of a number of his unpublished poems. The Thistlethwayte collection has been catalogued, but its contents have as yet remained largely unknown to scholars. I hope that this project will be an opportunity to foreground the contribution that private libraries such as the Winchester Fellows’ Library can make to knowledge and culture today."

For further research in the Eighteenth Century at the University of Birmingham, see Birmingham Eighteenth Century Centre (BECC).


To register for the symposium, please visit the online University Shop.

See also the symposium blog, where you will find the full programme of speakers and topics.

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Winchester College is our partner in Collecting the Eighteenth Century at Winchester College.





Collecting the Eighteenth Century at Winchester College has received support from the AHRC.