Now, the recently published A British Book Collector: Rare Books and Manuscripts in the R.E. Hart Collection, Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery (Published by the University of London Press; distributed in the U.S. by the University of Chicago Press) offers readers an in-depth look at the man, his collection, and his motivations. Scholars, professors, and curators specializing in the history of the book examine the materials housed at in the Hart collection. His gifts remained safely ensconced in the library vaults until 1962, when the Library published an introduction to the archives, but it would be another fourteen years before the public really had a sense of the richness of this collection, when an exhibition at the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester mentioned the Hart collection in its catalogue. This volume is a full appreciation of the collection and of the man who formed it.
Published as a sturdy, 200-page paperback (a pleasant surprise for this reader) and fully illustrated with color prints, A British Book Collector is both an ode to a devoted bibliophile and a robust argument for the importance these primary treasures serve as beacons for understanding world cultures.