Work in progress
Currently the catalogue of Soane's Library (in manuscript and with very abbreviated entries) can only be consulted at the Museum. Work to recatalogue the Library to modern bibliographical standards is nearing completion, and over the next three years groups of entries will be made available on the website at intervals as the editing is completed. Users are warned that, although every effort will be made to ensure accuracy, this is work in progress, and revisions may be made.
The first tranche of entries to go 'live' are the books shown in the 2004 exhibition Hooked on Books : The Library of Sir John Soane, Architect 1753-1837, the first ever devoted to Soane's Library.
We would very much welcome feedback on the catalogue entries and on the ease of navigation - please e-mail your comments, with the heading 'Catalogue Comments' to firstname.lastname@example.org. Queries for library staff or requests for appointments - should also be sent to email@example.com
Sir John Soane's Library
The Library of Sir John Soane, Architect (1753-1837) is preserved along with the rest of his other collection in his house at 13 Lincoln's Inn Fields, London, which he left to the nation as a Museum on his death in January 1837. Nothing has been added to or taken from the Library since then, and as such it represents a remarkable time capsule and window into one person's mind.
The Library consists of just over 6,000 titles, and is the only known professional library of an architect of the early 19th century. Regarded as the father of the architectural profession in Britain by the end of his life, Soane was Professor of Architecture at the Royal Academy, and to some extent evolved his collections as a teaching tool for architectural students, including the young men in his own office. Well known as a connoisseur and collector, Soane was also interested in technical innovation, all of which is reflected in his Library. Novels, travel books, cookery, gardening, religion and politics are all represented.
Exceptionally, not only are the books preserved in their original setting, but also the sale catalogues, receipts, booksellers' lists and prospectuses which underpin the Library, enabling us to say, in the case of many books, when and where Soane purchased them and for how much.
Eileen Harris 'Sir John Soane's Library : "O, Books! Ye Monuments of Mind" ' in Apollo, April 1990
David Watkin Enlightenment Thought : Sir John Soane and the Royal Academy Lectures, Cambridge University Press, 1996
Eileen Harris and Nicholas Savage eds Hooked on Books : The Library of Sir John Soane, Architect 1753-1837, Sir John Soane's Museum 2004 (available to purchase from www.soane.org)