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The London Library

Found in Nonfiction


The ‘Found on the Shelves’ is published with The London Library. The books in this series have been chosen to give a fascinating insight into the treasures that can be found while browsing in The London Library. Now celebrating its 175th anniversary, with over 17 miles of shelving and more than a million books, The London Library has become an unrivalled archive of the modes, manners and thoughts of each generation which has helped to form it.
Life in a Bustle by Sir Alfred Milner
The Right to Fly by George Sand
Through a Glass Lightly by Thomas Tylston Greg

The London Library : Titles in Order

Book 12
An account of a devastating mining disaster, celebrating the 175th anniversary of The London Library
Although (shallow) coal mining dates back as far as the 13th century, it was the development of the steam engine which began a huge increase in the amount of coal raised from the ground. Mining was difficult and there was constant danger from collapse, flooding and the presence of explosive gas. 


This account of the devastating explosion on the afternoon of 18th June 1835 makes powerful reading, reflecting in its simple language and direct reporting the reality of working life in the collieries at the time. In all, 102 of the 105 men and boys in the pit at the time of the explosion lost their lives; the two youngest boys killed were 8 and 9 years old.

The books in “Found on the Shelves” have been chosen to give a fascinating insight into the treasures that can be found while browsing in The London Library. Now celebrating its 175th anniversary, with over seventeen miles of shelving and more than a million books, The London Library has become an unrivalled archive of the modes, manners and thoughts of each generation which has helped to form it.

From essays on dieting in the 1860s to instructions for gentlewomen on trout-fishing, from advice on the ill health caused by the “modern” craze of bicycling to travelogues from Norway, they are as readable and relevant today as they were more than a century ago.
Book 11
A book of exploration and discovery, celebrating the 175th anniversary of The London Library.


From young men seeking outdoor adventure to intrepid ladies of a certain age discovering other cultures, Victorian explorers were starting to develop a more personal kind of travelogue. In A Woman’s Walks, Lady Colin Campbell takes us on a voyage of exploration through her inner landscape – as well as through Italy, France, Switzerland, Austro-Hungary, London, and the English countryside.

The books in “Found on the Shelves” have been chosen to give a fascinating insight into the treasures that can be found while browsing in The London Library. Now celebrating its 175th anniversary, with over seventeen miles of shelving and more than a million books, The London Library has become an unrivalled archive of the modes, manners and thoughts of each generation which has helped to form it.

From essays on dieting in the 1860s to instructions for gentlewomen on trout-fishing, from advice on the ill health caused by the “modern” craze of bicycling to travelogues from Norway, they are as readable and relevant today as they were more than a century ago.
Book 10
A book of dining, flirting, dancing and smoking, celebrating the 175th anniversary of The London Library.


With nineteenth-century fashions constantly changing, but the importance of the baffling social codes entirely rigid, a newly-prosperous and bewildered middle class was in dire need of careful guidance and advice. With the help of his mysterious lady friend, Charles William Day has a kind-hearted mission: “If these ‘hints’ save the blush upon one cheek, or smooth the path into ‘society’ of only one honest family, the object of the author will be attained.” Here is a book which walks the hopeful reader through the finer details of dining, smoking, dancing, flirting, card-playing, walking and talking.

The books in “Found on the Shelves” have been chosen to give a fascinating insight into the treasures that can be found while browsing in The London Library. Now celebrating its 175th anniversary, with over seventeen miles of shelving and more than a million books, The London Library has become an unrivalled archive of the modes, manners and thoughts of each generation which has helped to form it.

From essays on dieting in the 1860s to instructions for gentlewomen on trout-fishing, from advice on the ill health caused by the “modern” craze of bicycling to travelogues from Norway, they are as readable and relevant today as they were more than a century ago.
Book 9
A book of boxing by one of the nineteenth-century stars, celebrating the 175th anniversary of The London Library.


Ned Donnelly, a former prize fighter turned boxing instructor and author (with a lot of help from his literate friends), was a household name as a one of the most successful, famous, and respected instructors in the history of British boxing. This delightful book – more than an instruction manual, more than an amusing pastime – captures the fighting style from a crucial moment in boxing history right after the Prize Ring had become extinct. With a detailed clarity of expression, and accompanied by charming illustrations of a slightly paunchy boxer, it is a fascinating insight to the man who trained George Bernard Shaw.

The books in “Found on the Shelves” have been chosen to give a fascinating insight into the treasures that can be found while browsing in The London Library. Now celebrating its 175th anniversary, with over seventeen miles of shelving and more than a million books, The London Library has become an unrivalled archive of the modes, manners and thoughts of each generation which has helped to form it.

From essays on dieting in the 1860s to instructions for gentlewomen on trout-fishing, from advice on the ill health caused by the “modern” craze of bicycling to travelogues from Norway, they are as readable and relevant today as they were more than a century ago.
Book 8
A book passionately defending balloon flight for human beings, celebrating the 175th anniversary of The London Library.


The first balloon flight with passengers (a sheep, a duck, and a rooster) took place on 19th September 1783. On 4th October 1863, Nadar’s giant balloon “Le Géant” had its first ascent; the second (and nearly fatal) was two weeks later.

A curiosity both for its content on theories of flight and its author, an important pioneer of French photography and skilled self-publicist, The Right to Fly indicates the interest taken by many at the time in the possibilities of human flight – and the Victorian passion for discoveries and invention.

The books in “Found on the Shelves” have been chosen to give a fascinating insight into the treasures that can be found while browsing in The London Library. Now celebrating its 175th anniversary, with over seventeen miles of shelving and more than a million books, The London Library has become an unrivalled archive of the modes, manners and thoughts of each generation which has helped to form it.

From essays on dieting in the 1860s to instructions for gentlewomen on trout-fishing, from advice on the ill health caused by the “modern” craze of bicycling to travelogues from Norway, they are as readable and relevant today as they were more than a century ago.
Book 7
The love of drinking was well-developed in the nineteenth-century Englishman. With chapters on port, claret, sherry, champagne, Burgundy, Madeira, wine cellars, glasses and butlers, Through a Glass Lightly is a love letter to wine and everything that came with it. But the passionate tale has a sorry ending: in the final two chapters, the author develops gout and has to become a teetotaller in order to be able to take out life insurance.

The books in “Found on the Shelves” have been chosen to give a fascinating insight into the treasures that can be found while browsing in The London Library. Now celebrating its 175th anniversary, with over seventeen miles of shelving and more than a million books, The London Library has become an unrivalled archive of the modes, manners and thoughts of each generation which has helped to form it.

From essays on dieting in the 1860s to instructions for gentlewomen on trout-fishing, from advice on the ill health caused by the “modern” craze of bicycling to travelogues from Norway, they are as readable and relevant today as they were more than a century ago.
Book 6
The London Library is the world’s largest independent library. Founded in 1841 by Thomas Carlyle (in reaction to the “museum headache” brought on by the crowds in the British Museum Reading Room), it has become a haven for readers, writers and all who draw strength, solace or inspiration from the presence of books. Some of the most illustrious figures of the last two centuries have written, thought and walked there: George Eliot, Charles Dickens, E.M. Forster, Virginia Woolf and many more were members.

And over time, some of these celebrated members have shared–with each other, or with an interested public–their views on the delights, challenges and joys of reading, writing and living with books.

The books in “Found on the Shelves” have been chosen to give a fascinating insight into the treasures that can be found while browsing in The London Library. Now celebrating its 175th anniversary, with over seventeen miles of shelving and more than a million books, The London Library has become an unrivalled archive of the modes, manners and thoughts of each generation which has helped to form it.

From essays on dieting in the 1860s to instructions for gentlewomen on trout-fishing, from advice on the ill health caused by the “modern” craze of bicycling to travelogues from Norway, they are as readable and relevant today as they were more than a century ago.
Book 5
It was not easy to be a sportswoman at the end of the nineteenth century. Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympic Games, said in 1896: “No matter how toughened a sportswoman may be, her organism is not cut out to sustain certain shocks.” Women competed in the Olympics for the first time in 1900.

The “white sailor hats” and the “confu- sion between you, your hat, and the ball” in Lady Greville’s book may now seem charmingly old-fashioned–until we remember that in 2015, more than a century later, more than 40% of elite sportswomen in Britain were reported to have suffered sexism. Which suddenly makes the bold gentlewomen of 1892 seem far more pioneering…

The books in “Found on the Shelves” have been chosen to give a fascinating insight into the treasures that can be found while browsing in The London Library. Now celebrating its 175th anniversary, with over seventeen miles of shelving and more than a million books, The London Library has become an unrivalled archive of the modes, manners and thoughts of each generation which has helped to form it.

From essays on dieting in the 1860s to instructions for gentlewomen on trout-fishing, from advice on the ill health caused by the “modern” craze of bicycling to travelogues from Norway, they are as readable and relevant today as they were more than a century ago – even if contemporary sportswomen no longer have to “thank Providence and one’s tailor for one’s knickerbockers”!
Book 4
At the turn of the (last) century, the world was changing rapidly. Trains were faster, cheaper and more comfortable than ever before. The new craze of bicycling had given men and women unprecedented independence. And the modernisation of telegraphy and the recent invention of the telephone meant that information could be exchanged over huge distances in a mere matter of minutes.

And so a frazzled and harried world was ready for the pioneers in thinking, education and imagination to advise and instruct on the perilous “Age of Hurry”. Passionate thinkers, committed campaigners, they give invaluable guidance for anyone troubled by the rush and bustle of the early century’s information overload.

The books in “Found on the Shelves” have been chosen to give a fascinating insight into the treasures that can be found while browsing in The London Library. Now celebrating its 175th anniversary, with over seventeen miles of shelving and more than a million books, The London Library has become an unrivalled archive of the modes, manners and thoughts of each generation which has helped to form it.

From essays on dieting in the 1860s to instructions for gentlewomen on trout-fishing, from advice on the ill health caused by the “modern” craze of bicycling to travelogues from Norway, they are as readable and relevant today as they were more than a century ago–even if the exhortation to “never drink beer or spirits” has been widely disregarded!
Book 3
Fat seemed to be getting fatter under Queen Victoria: Tweedledum and Tweedledee; Joe “the fat boy” in The Pickwick Papers; even the first known report of childhood obesity in 1859. But for the short, corpulent (and extremely success- ful) undertaker William Banting, the overweight life was not a bundle of laughs. It was only at the age of sixty, when he was unable to even “attend to the little offices which humanity requires, without considerable pain and difficulty”, that he finally stumbled upon a cure: an early incarnation of the Atkins diet. Butter, potatoes, sugar, milk–all gone, in favour of fish, meat, dry toast (and seven glasses of claret a day).

And with the diet for the body came a diet for the mind: for Lewis Carroll, an indiscriminate intake of “fatty” information was just as harmful as carbohydrates–and in today’s society of ever-increasing “consumption” of food, news and even relationships, Banting and Carroll are remarkably ahead of their time.

The books in “Found on the Shelves” have been chosen to give a fascinating insight into the treasures that can be found while browsing in The London Library. Now celebrating its 175th anniversary, with over seventeen miles of shelving and more than a million books, The London Library has become an unrivalled archive of the modes, manners and thoughts of each generation which has helped to form it.

From essays on dieting in the 1860s to instructions for gentlewomen on trout-fishing, from advice on the ill health caused by the “modern” craze of bicycling to travelogues from Norway, they are as readable and relevant today as they were more than a century ago–even if contemporary dieticians might not recommend quite such a regular intake of brandy!
Book 2
The 19th-century boom in mass tourism, fuelled by the introduction of the railways, brought with it the rise of travel writing. Guided excursions such as “Cook’s Tours” (the first of which was led by Thomas Cook in 1841, and went from Leicester to Loughborough) were not for everyone. Many preferred to strike out alone into the depths of foreign lands. Of these foreign lands, Norway appealed to the more intrepid: the grand scenery, exotic peasantry and comparative cheapness of the Far North suited the enthusiasm of the young (or female) tourist.

The books in “Found on the Shelves” have been chosen to give a fascinating insight into the treasures that can be found while browsing in The London Library. Now celebrating its 175th anniversary, with over seventeen miles of shelving and more than a million books, The London Library has become an unrivalled archive of the modes, manners and thoughts of each generation which has helped to form it.

From essays on dieting in the 1860s to instructions for gentlewomen on trout-fishing, from advice on the ill health caused by the “modern” craze of bicycling to travelogues from Norway, they are as readable and relevant today as they were more than a century ago–even if it is no longer the Norwegian custom for tourists to be awoken by “the best-looking girl in the house”!
Book 1
The first bicycle was invented at the beginning of the nineteenth century, but it wasn’t until the 1890s that the craze really took off. This brought with it the fears, scaremongering, worries and uncertainties that inevitably accompany any new fashion. Women (often unchaperoned and oddly dressed) taking to “velocipedes”; overexertion; the possibility of heart disease – these are just some of the fears that haunted the establishment in the late nineteenth century… But with it, of course, came the joy and wonder of “the easy and agreeable motion” of this thoroughly modern means of locomotion.

The books in “Found on the Shelves” have been chosen to give a fascinating insight into the treasures that can be found while browsing in The London Library. Now celebrating its 175th anniversary, with over seventeen miles of shelving and more than a million books, The London Library has become an unrivalled archive of the modes, manners and thoughts of each generation which has helped to form it.

From essays on dieting in the 1860s to instructions for gentlewomen on trout-fishing, from advice on the ill health caused by the “modern” craze of bicycling to travelogues from Norway, they are as readable and relevant today as they were more than a century ago – even if the cardiovascular dangers of cycling have now been disproved!

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