I’m a Celebrity- Check Me Out of Here!

James Heywood, Founder of the First Free Library in Kensington
James Heywood, Founder of the First Free Library in Kensington

The Biography Collection at Kensington Central Library

Kensington Central Library is home to the biography collection, which contains an estimated total of 80,000 books. It began as part of the Metropolitan Special Collection which was set up among the London boroughs in the 1950s. It’s a very well-used resource and every title in the collection is available to view and borrow.

The classification of biography includes memoirs, letters, diaries and speeches. The works of renowned public speakers like Winston Churchill and prolific letter writers such as Queen Victoria can be found here. We also stock  collected biographies (about more than one person). Many of our holdings are out of print (the earliest we have date back to the early 1700s) and difficult to find elsewhere. Over the years we’ve amassed books from other public libraries, academic institutions as well as donations from members of the public. This makes our collection as unique as it is expansive.

A Selection of Books in the Biography Collection
A Selection of Books in the Biography Collection

What’s fascinating about the biography collection is the range of interests it caters to. Many of our titles cross into other subjects with artists, scientists, world leaders and historical figures. Saints and sinners, emperors and slaves – you’ll find them all here. From works of academic research to light-hearted showbiz stories, there’s something in the collection for everyone.

Books on Mozart
Books on Mozart

As the biography collection is inaccessible to the public, we select materials for display in the library.  These are often tied to events, festivals and library promotions. Here are a few we have exhibited this year…

  • Dickens Bicentenary: How the life of Charles Dickens inspired him to write his memorable stories and characters. With over one hundred holdings on the life of the novelist, we had plenty to choose from!
  • The Queen’s Jubilee: To celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II we gathered together some books on her early life as well as the sixty years of her reign.
  • London 2012 Olympics: Our “Sporting Heroes” display documented the trials, tribulations and victories of some of the world’s most famous athletes.

All of the titles can be found on the library catalogue and are available on request. They can be issued to anyone with a valid library card.

Take a peek at the biography collection we have a video on our website. Want to see more? We will be holding tours of the collection in January 2013, keep an eye on our What’s On page for further details!

Lindsay Robertson
Lindsay Robertson

Lindsay Robertson, Senior Customers Services Assistant

Kensington Central Library


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