Thursday, July 27, 2006

Best Book Memoirs

A poster on the Ex-Libris listserv last night asked for suggestions of the "best memoirs by rare book collectors or dealers" - the responses (from some of the best in the rare book community) have been so excellent that I thought I'd compile the list and share them [updates have been added, and the suggestions are now in order alphabetically by author]. Biographies are included, links are to the LT page if available:

- Altick, Richard D.: The Scholar Adventurers (most often recommended, and highly).
- Basbanes, Nicholas: A Gentle Madness, Patience & Fortitude, A Splendor of Letters, Among the Gently Mad, Every Book Its Reader.
- Baxter, John: A Pound of Paper: Confessions of a Book Addict.
- Collins, Paul: Sixpence House: Lost in a Town of Books.
- Dickinson, Donald C.: John Carter: The Taste and Technique of a Bookman.
- Everitt, Charles P.: The Adventures of a Treasure Hunter.
- Gekoski, Rick: Tolkien's Gown and Other Stories of Famous Authors and Rare Books, published in the US as Nabokov's Butterfly and Other Stories of Famous Authors and Rare Books.
- Kraus, H.P.: A Rare Book Saga.
- Lake, Carlton: Confessions of a Literary Archaeologist.
- Lansky, Aaron: Outwitting History: The Amazing Adventures of a Man who Rescued a Million Yiddish Books.
- Lewis, Wilmarth: Collector's Progress (an excellent website on Lewis and the Walpole Library is here).
- Magee, David: Infinite Riches: The Adventures of a Rare Book Dealer.
- Markham, Sheila: Book of Booksellers: Conversations with the Antiquarian Book Trade 1991-2003 (some info here).
- Meyer, David: Memoirs of a Book Snake and Inclined Toward Magic: Encounters with Books, Collectors and Conjurors.
- Milne, Christopher Robin: The Path Through the Trees.
- Muir, Percy: Minding my Own Business: An Autobiography.
- Newton, A. Edward: Amenities of Book-Collecting and Kindred Affections, A Magnificent Farce and Other Diversions of a Book-Collector, The Greatest Book in the World and Other Papers.
- Powell, Lawrence Clark: Bookman's Progress: Selected Writings, A Passion for Books, among others.
- Randall, David Anton: Dukedom Large Enough: Reminiscences of a Rare Book Dealer 1929-1956.
- Roberts, William: The Book-Hunter in London: Historical and Other Studies of Collectors and Collecting.
- Rosenwald, Lessing: Recollections of a Collector.
- Rostenberg, Leona and Madeleine B. Stern: Old Books in the Old World: Reminiscences of Book Buying Abroad; New Worlds in Old Books; Old Books, Rare Friends: Two Literary Sleuths and Their Shared Passion.
- Rota, Anthony: Books in the Blood.
- Sims, George: The Rare Book Game, More on the Rare Book Game, Last of the Rare Book Game, A Life in Catalogue and Other Essays.
- Sowerby, E. Milicent; Rare People and Rare Books.
- Steloff, Frances and W.G. Rogers, Wise Men Fish Here.
- Storm, Colton and Howard Peckham: Invitation to Book Collecting.
- Tanselle, G. Thomas: The Pleasures of Being a Scholar-Collector.
- Weissman, Stephen: "What use is Bibliography? The Life and Opinions of an Antiquarian Bookseller" (PBSA, v. 89.2; 06/1995).
- West, Herbert F.: The Impecunious Amateur Looks Back: The Autobiography of a Bookman, The Mind on the Wing: A Book for Readers and Collectors, Sunny Intervals and others.
- Winterich, John: Primer of Book Collecting (several editions, some co-authored by Dave Randall).
- Wolf, Edwin: Rosenbach.
- Wrigley, Arthur: "From a Correspondent" in The Book Collector 52, no. 4
(2003): 490-7 and Nicholas Barker, "Arthur Edward Wrigley (1865-1952)" in the same issue, pages 529-36.

Slightly off-topic but still interesting:
- Benjamin, Walter: "Unpacking my Library," in Illuminations.
- Harvey, Miles: The Island of Lost Maps: A True Story of Cartographic Crime.
- Highet, Gilbert: People, Places, and Books.
- Martin, William: Harvard Yard.
- Towner, Wesley: The Elegant Auctioneer.

Additionally, collector Jerry Morris provides this extensive list of books pertaining to collecting and collectors in England; another good source for this will be the forthcoming Out of Print and Into Profit: A History of the Rare and Secondhand Book Trade in Britain in the 20th Century (to be published this fall by the British Library and Oak Knoll Press).

Wow, I have a lot of reading to do!