Uncovering the Arundel Library at the Royal Society: changing meanings of science and the fate of the Norfolk donation

L. V. Peck


Thomas Howard, Earl of Arundel, was the most important collector in early 17th Century Britain. Much attention has been paid to his collections of painting and sculpture, his patronage of painters such as Rubens and Van Dyck and architects such as Inigo Jones, and his search through Greece and Turkey for antiquities. Little, however, has been written on the Arundel Library, which was equally famous. The cause is not hard to find: the library has been dispersed whereas the marbles and antiquities have found a home at Oxford, the manuscripts at the British Library and the College of Arms, and the paintings and sculpture remain identifiable whether at Arundel Castle or in British, continental or American museums. Yet the Arundel Library is of great significance: to the history of book–collecting by the great bibliophiles Willibald Pirckheimer and Arundel himself; to the study of the reading practices and libraries of members of the Howard family, possibly including Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, and, certainly, his son, Henry Howard, Earl of Northampton; and, more generally, to the history of the book in the Renaissance and early modern Europe and the concomitant study of communities of readers.

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