Libris . . .
I took the bag load of books back to my little coastal library the other day and I reflected on how lucky I was to have such a sweet library in my favourite place in the world. Better still, after watching North and South the other night, how surprised was I to see a copy of Mrs.Gaskell’s book on the fiction shelves under G for Gaskell . . . and this is a library that services at peak times, under a thousand people.
It occurred to me that the early settlers in that little colonial Australian village would never have had the benefit of a library. They would have travelled the 50 miles to Hobart Town by carriage and four and bought books from the shops that existed or else had them sent by ship-mail from England, Scotland or Ireland. The few books those early settlers had would have been loved to death but carried for life in the minds of the literate.
In Europe of course, magnificent libraries abounded. Ecclesiastical and royal libraries and libraries of the wealthy nobility and it was with great joy that I found a link, given to me by a fellow bibliophile, with image after image of the most glorious libraries in the world.
For myself, the older the better, perhaps the less frescoed and gilded the better. I love the Bodleian . . . I love the soaring wooden transoms and the aged memories drifting in and out of times past.
I have always had a dream that when I become a famous writer and my books are movies (this IS a dream, the world of fantasy, because I am a fantasy writer) I shall have the wherewithal to have my own library.
I shall sit with the love of my life and I shall have all manner of book spirits to catalogue and file and help me access and enjoy my collection . . . an eclectic collection of the printed word and the visual image.
I can pinpoint the time when I decided I must eventually have my own library . I left the cinema after seeing My Fair Lady and it was the scene inProfessor Higgins’ library where Rex Harrison stalked around in an elegant velevet smoking jacket and Audrey Hepburn climbed sliding ladders and spiral staircases as she was lauded by the professor and Colonel Pickering. ‘By George, she’s got it!’ they sang.
The library was cosy and redolent of long bookish hours and learning and I can remember thinking what joy it would be to have enough books to warrant a sliding ladder. Ah well, of such things are dreams made and I shall go on dreaming . . .