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14 - Ownership: private and public libraries



Of women as independent book-owners one have, as yet, little extensive evidence, notable exceptions being Frances Wolfreston and Elizabeth Puckering both, by coincidence, of the West Midlands. The libraries of John Donne and Ben Jonson, for example, have been recovered only by searching for surviving books bearing their marks of ownership. Buying here was in fits and starts, and donations, great or small, were erratic. Created and imbued with life in precise and defined circumstances, libraries may by the passage of time, or else by some change in their ownership or administration, wither away and die, or else develop shapes unimagined by their creators. In interleaved form it was taken up by libraries in Britain and overseas as the basis for describing their own collections. In all this Richard Bentley addressed needs and opportunities too oftenunheeded by subsequent generations. Had Evelyn considered the cathedral libraries, he could have found some encouragement.
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