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The London Library

“You see this book? Virginia Woolf’s husband looked up rude words in this book.” Such is the type of story associated with many of the volumes held on the shelves of the London Library. It’s a literary lover’s dream, complete with labyrinthine aisles densely packed with a collection built up since 1841.

The Library was founded by Thomas Carlyle as an alternative to the library at the British Museum, which he claimed was filled with “snorers, snufflers, wheezers, spitters” interrupting his quiet study. His subscription, members-only institute would soon attract many famous names to come and browse through the reference books—past members include Charles Dickens, Arthur Conan Doyle, Charles Darwin, Agatha Christie, and Winston Churchill—some later providing their own books for the shelves.

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