George Henry Lewes

Born in London on the 18 April 1817, G H Lewes is probably best known as the consort/partner of George Eliot. He encouraged her genius and managed her publishing affairs. A journalist, novelist, playwright and actor, he established a library which, following his death, was for the most part gifted to Dr Williams’s Library in 1882 by Charles Lee Lewes, his son.  Forty percent of Lewes’s books come under the classification of science and medicine and some of these date from the seventeenth century.  Lewes’s library reveals his interests in European thought with an emphasis on German ideas; it includes imprints from France, Italy and Belgium, with the earliest dating from the sixteenth century, and a handful from America.  This move has given us the opportunity to carefully assess the collection and write a formal condition report in order to apply for conservation grants.  With a minimum intervention policy in place  the aim will be to conserve and to carry out minimal conservation work.  Many volumes are in their original bindings and  several of these in their original paste and coloured paper wrappers.  A number of  books were purchased from Pietro Rolandi, an Italian bookseller and publisher whose premises were at 20 Berners Street, London.  This collection is particular rich and varied for those interested in the history of the book.