Home Culture Behold the Jacobean Traveling Library: The 17th Century Forerunner to the Kindle

Behold the Jacobean Traveling Library: The 17th Century Forerunner to the Kindle


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Image thanks to the University at Leeds

In the striking image above, you can see an early experiment in making books portable– a 17th century precursor, if you will, to the contemporary Kindle.

According to the library at the University of Leeds, this “Jacobean Travelling Library” go back to 1617. That’s when William Hakewill, an English attorney and MP, commissioned the mini library– a huge book, which itself holds 50 smaller sized books, all “bound in limp skin covers with coloured material ties.” What books remained in this portable library, indicated to accompany noblemen on their journeys? Naturally the classics. Faith, approach, classical history and poetry. The works of Ovid, Seneca, Cicero, Virgil, Tacitus, and Saint Augustine. A lot of the exact same texts that appeared in The Harvard Classics (now available online) 3 centuries later on.

Apparently 3 other Jacobean Travelling Libraries were made. They now live at the British Library, the Huntington Library in San Marino, California, and the Toledo Museum of Art in Toledo, Ohio.

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