On World Book Day: in praise of books

I thought it would be appropriate to mark World Book Day with some quotations from our exhibition Beyond Macbeth in praise of books.

William Drummond is one of my favourite collectors – his motivation in building his collection seems to have been his love of reading all kinds of literature. He wrote two essays about libraries. The first is in the persona of the library of Edinburgh University, to which he donated a substantial part of his own personal library in 1626. In ‘Bibliotheca Edinburgena Lectori‘ (’The Edinburgh Library to the Reader’), he says

‘ Books have that strange Quality, that being of the frailest and tenderest Matter, they out-last Brass, Iron, and Marble; and tho’ their Habitations and Walls, by uncivil Hands, be many Times overthrown; and they themselves, by foreign Force, be turned Prisoners, yet do they often, as their Authors, keep their Givers Names; seeming rather to change Places and Masters, than to suffer a full Ruine and total Wrack.’

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in praise of books