Thomas Carlyle and the London Library

Michael Foot celebrates the anniversary of the London Library with a tribute to its founder, Thomas Carlyle.

Thomas Carlyle in 1854

Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881) liked to have a portrait of the person he was writing about there before him on the wall or on his desk, and his own presence properly presides over the London Library today, just as it did when the institution was established 150 years ago. My own father had acquired somewhere Carlyle's particular portrait of Giuseppe Mazzini, and thereafter it had an honoured place on his mantelpiece, helping to ensure that the spell of the Italian Risorgimento could be felt alongside the other truly liberal, revolutionary themes which suffused the whole household.

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