Schedule: Mon / Tue 10 am - 9 pm | Wed / Thu / Fri 10 am - 5.30 pm | Sat 9.30 am - 5.30 pm | Sun closed
Tickets: Free admission
Location: London Library
Address: 14 St James's Square, St. James's, London SW1Y 4LG
On June 24, 1840, during a crowded meeting in a hall of Covent Garden, Thomas Carlyle stood up and expressed the opinion that London needed a new library. Furthermore, the philosopher was tired of the British Museum Library, where he was forced to sit back to back with his fellow readers, giving him a “museum headache”. The far-reaching vision of that night seemed a dream, but it would result in the world’s largest lending library. Today, the facade of the London Library in St James’s Square advises us that we are about to enter a treasure trove of more than one-million books covering seventeen miles of shelves accessible to all, spread across seven adjoining buildings. Since its opening on May 3, 1841, this paradise of reading, writing and thought in general became, over time, the beloved abode of some of the greatest names of literature, from Charles Dickens to George Eliot, from Virginia Woolf to Agatha Christie. Its halls have inspired poets and Noble Prize winners. The sensation of moving about among volumes from the 1700s, from the 1500s even, and knowing that over 5300 books published from 1800 onwards are kept in a safe because of their marked rarity, vulnerability or unique provenance, is incomparable. At the London Library, there are also versions of some of the smallest books in the world, even miniatures smaller than three inches in height. Among these is the smallest copy of Dante’s Divine Comedy.
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