London Library

London Library: a writer’s haven

Chloe Brookes of the London Library explains what they can offer writers

“An intellectual refuge, essential research centre, treasure-house…” (Andrew Marr).

Founded in 1841 by Thomas Carlyle, the London Library in Piccadilly is one of the world’s largest independent libraries, a literary oasis housing a million books in the arts and humanities, all freely available to browse and borrow on 15 miles of open access shelves. With books dating from the 16th century to the latest publications in print and electronic form, throughout its history the Library has sought to be ‘contemporary in every age’ and acquires 8,000 new books every year.

The London Library offers an ideal space in which to write, think and discover in the heart of London. Equipped with purpose-built Reading Rooms and numerous quiet study areas nestled amongst the book stacks, the Library is a place for serendipitous inspiration.

The Library is wi-fi equipped throughout and members enjoy access to an extensive range of online resources including JSTOR and a host of online archives and subscriptions. For those who may not be able to visit the Library in person, there is a postal loans service which will dispatch books and periodical volumes to readers anywhere within the UK and Europe.

“After day one I realised I was going to come here every day. You have company – you don’t have solitude… It’s extraordinary how comforting it is.” (Victoria Hislop).

Of the one million books in the Library, notable collections include Literature and Fiction with a huge range of novels, poetry, plays, essays and literary criticism. Other notable collections include History, Biography, Topography, Travel and exploration and the Art collection of books on art and architecture. There is fine coverage of the history of science, the social sciences and philosophy, and the Religion collection houses an exceptional range of theological texts and studies in comparative religion. The foreign languages are served with books in over 50 languages, with particular riches in the French, German, Italian, Spanish and Russian collections.

Membership of the Library is open to all.

“The London Library is my favourite place in the whole of London. A unique resource and a wonderful place in which to read and research.” (John O’Farrell)

Membership Benefits:

  • Browse and borrow more than one million books
  • Benefit from generous book loan periods and no fines
  • Access to 750 magazine and periodical subscriptions
  • Free access to electronic resources, from JSTOR to Private Eye and Who’s Who online, wherever you are in the world
  • Postal loans service anywhere in the UK and Europe
  • Wi-fi equipped library and reading rooms
  • Membership and discounts to other organisations in the literary community

Details of membership fees online. Those who cannot meet the membership fee may apply for assisted membership from The London Library Trust.

Photo by Paul Raferty