This lecture series will explore seventeenth-century personal book ownership, looking not only at book acquisition patterns but also investigating motives and collecting cultures. A key theme will be the use of material evidence from books themselves to help to enhance our understanding of seventeenth-century values.
Why did people own books? To read? Although this most obvious answer to the question will often be the right one, books have been owned for a multiplicity of reasons, which may include making a statement, furnishing a room, or creating a legacy for posterity. Using various case studies and drawing on the evidence of bindings and personal markings, this lecture will focus on books beyond their textual utility, exploring the extent to which seventeenth-century owners may have used their books partly or solely as objects of display, or as projections of their wealth and status.