The Consummate Collector : William Beckford's Letters to His Bookseller


The Consummate Collector : William Beckford's Letters to His Bookseller



Edited by Robert J. Gemmett, College at Brockport Faculty emeritus.

This collection of over 350 letters written by William Beckford to his bookseller George Clarke over the years 1830 to 1834, gives a vivid picture of the insatiable connoisseur in the act of gathering the books and prints that ultimately became part of the library of the Duke of Hamilton, sold in 1882. This correspondence, with the addition of Clarke’s own letters to Beckford, constitutes the most complete documentary record of Beckford’s collecting habits and literary pursuits in existence. They are significant as historical documents that guide the reader into the golden age of the London book trade with its array of wealthy collectors, publishing houses, auction firms, book and print dealers. They also shed light on the negotiations with the publisher Richard Bentley for the publication of Italy; with Sketches of Spain and Portugal and trace the anxiety Beckford experienced in his fruitless efforts to sell the Episodes of Vathek. The editor’s explanatory notes are comprehensive, revealing Beckford’s enthusiasms and the fury of his attack against competitors in the field. The Consummate Collector will be warmly received by bibliophiles, historians, and readers interested in one of the most fascinating men of his time.



Publication Date


Publication Information

New, revised edition.

[England] : Fonthill, c2014.

285 pages, 16 unnumbered leaves of plates : illustrations (some color) ; 24 cm.


Literature in English, British Isles




Located in Drake Library at: PR4092 .G44 2014

CONTENTS: Acknowledgements -- List of illustrations -- Editorial principles -- 1830 -- 1831 -- 1832 -- 1833 -- 1834 -- Appendices -- Endnotes -- Bibliography -- Index.

The Consummate Collector : William Beckford's Letters to His Bookseller