Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Chapters From A Bookseller's Life: Part 3

If you wish to read Part 1 of Chapters From a Booksellers Life Click Here.

This was written by A.L. Humphreys the head of Hatchards the Piccadilly bookshop in 1924 for John O'London's Weekly.

The Cecil Rhodes Library.

It also occurred to me at a rather late stage to suggest to Mr. Rhodes that it would be well to supplement what he was doing by getting together from all sources the best biographical data regarding the personal histories of the Caesars. This was a scheme that he fell in with at once, and I collected together, from hundreds of quarters all over Europe, the best and most scholarly books which had been written in any language upon the Roman Emperors. Those also were translated and indexed, as were the others, and they made a fine series of volumes with portraits, illustrations, and reproductions from coins, etc.

Mr. Rhodes, at various times, both during personal interviews and in correspondence, revealed his likes and his dislikes. He objected for one thing to possessing a library of standard authors. What he really meant was that his idea of a library must be something individual, and that no man could be expected to admire everything by any one author. I once told him, when I was talking to him at 187, Piccadilly, that I had made a good collection of books upon Diamonds and Diamond Mining. He at once rejected my suggestion that he should purchase these, and pulling himself up he said, "I am not a diamond merchant." As diamonds had played a fairly important part in starting Mr. Rhodes, I thought his reply was not quite worthy of his greatness. The remarkable library formed by Cecil Rhodes, details of which I have given, is still at Groote Schurr - one of the many monuments to the force and individuality of the originator.