From Wadham to Winchester: Reconstructing an Eighteenth-Century Gentleman's Library

Alexander Thistlethwayte (1718?-1771) was denounced by Horace Walpole as that most unpleasant of creatures, ‘a country squire’. Owner of a Hampshire estate and MP for the county for a decade, Thistlethwayte was in many respects a typical member of the provincial gentry. But in one respect he was remarkable: over a lifetime of collecting he amassed a library of over eight thousand books, and in the years before his death he made large donations to the libraries of Wadham College, his alma mater, and Winchester College, his nephew’s school. This talk will tell the story of the creation and dispersal of this little-known library and show how it sheds light on the social and cultural life of an eighteenth-century gentry family.