More than 200 Scottish first editions, including the writings of Robert Burns and John Knox, are coming home. The collector Janet Burns Saint Germain, who is American-born but of Scottish descent, has given the works to the Library of Innerpeffray in Perthshire, which she first visited some 20 years ago. ‘I want people to enjoy the books as much as I have, and for that to happen, they need to be available, not locked away in a private or academic library,’ she says. ‘Innerpeffray is perfect.’
Founded in 1680, Innerpeffray was Britain’s first lending library and has the oldest continuous Borrowers Register in Europe, recording the reading habits of shepherds, shoemakers, schoolmasters and gamekeepers, some of whom walked for up to 20 miles to further their learning.
The Scottish Collection, which includes a handwritten manuscript of the Burns song Wilt Thou be my Dearie?, Boswell’s The Life of Samuel Jonnson (1791) and John Knox’s prayer book (1615), is to be housed in a new space funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and others (01764 652819; www.innerpeffraylibrary.co.uk).
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