William Boyd’s Library Tour

The Southbank Centre, which hosts numerous cultural events in London–mostly music and art but also including sponsorship of the London Literature Festival, are posting short videos of various writers offering tours of their libraries. The first of these involves novelist and critic William Boyd:

In William Boyd’s Book Club the author talks us through some of the ‘over 10,000’ books that occupy the shelves of his London home, from the miniscule Victorian Thumb Dictionary, to the more contemporary novels of David Szalay and Evie Wyld. ” I think there must be over 10,000 books, but you can’t just chuck them out if you don’t want them, so they just sort of pile up” says Boyd.

Boyd proudly displays a pamphlet-sized first edition of Philip Larkin’s XX Poems (1951) of which he says only a few dozen copies remain and his complete set of Edmund Wilson’s notebooks and diaries by decade, describing Wilson as probably the leading critic of his generation. When he comes to Evelyn Waugh, Boyd mentions his admiration of Waugh’s writing and then pulls out a book in a slipcase. He explains that this is Brideshead Revisited but not the first edition of 1945. Rather, what he is most proud of is the first edition of the 1960 revised version, presented with an inscription from Waugh to Christopher Sykes “from whom every character in this romance was assiduously drawn by his affectionate friend.” Here’s a link to the video which is approximately 5 minutes long.

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