Life of John Alexander Symington, Bibliographer and Librarian, 1887-1961 a Bookman's Rise and Fall

Author: Smurthwaite, John
Year:1995
Pages:176
ISBN:0-7734-9021-3
978-0-7734-9021-5
Price:159.95
This is the first biography of Alex Symington, bibliographer, curator, librarian and bookseller. It draws heavily on unpublished archival sources to create a lively picture of the backstage workings of the British Establishment between the wars.Originally a civil servant, Symington created the magnificent Brotherton Collection of rare books and manuscripts in his spare time, as librarian to the industrialist Lord Brotherton. After an acrimonious five-year dispute between Brotherton's heirs and Leeds University, he was appointed Keeper of the Collection at the University, only to be dismissed after a corruption scandal in 1938. He was similarly forced to resign his curatorship of the Brontë Parsonage Museum at Haworth, but went on to edit with T.J. Wise the Shakespeare Head Brontë. In addition, Symington was chairman of a bookselling company. Symington's life is part of the larger story of the decline of the Bookmen. The essential amateur in an increasingly professionalized and academic-dominated world, his tragedy lay in his failure to grasp that the day of the self-taught Bookman was past. Includes 8 photographs.

Reviews

"The book is smartly produced, readable. . . well documented and indexed. It adds greatly to our knowledge of the pre-war bibliographic underworld and provides Bronte scholars with some useful leads and ideas. . . . there are many of us who will be grateful for his industry and skill. At last we have some facts to replace shadowy myths and speculations. - Bronte Society Transactions