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The Catalogue of Shipwrecked Books


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About the Author

Having grown up in Kenya and Switzerland, with periods living in Mexico, Zimbabwe, and the United States, Edward Wilson-Lee now lives in Cambridge, where he teaches Renaissance literature and is a Fellow of Sidney Sussex College. His research focuses on books, libraries, and travel, which during this project has involved journeys to and through Spain, Italy, India, and the Caribbean. He is the author of Shakespeare in Swahililand.


'It's a captivating adventure ... For lovers of history, Wilson-Lee offers a thrill on almost every page ... The Catalogue of Shipwrecked Books offers a vivid picture of Europe on the verge of becoming modern, but still holding tight to its ancient baggage ... Magnificent.' New York Times

'READ THIS TRANSPORTING BOOK. Take it to the beach, to the countryside wherever - and thank you Edward Wilson-Lee for writing it, and with such a sense of vital grace' Simon Schama

'Perfectly pitched poetic drama - the closest thing documented history can get to magic realism... The Catalogue of Shipwrecked Books is a wonderful book ...The true measure of Edward Wilson-Lee's accomplishment, delivered in a simile-studded prose that is seldom less elegant and often quite beautiful, is to make Hernando's epic, measured library shelves, not nautical miles, every bit as thrilling as his father's story' Financial Times

'Wilson-Lee's book - the first modern biography of Hernando written in English - is far more than just a straight account of a life, albeit a rich one... moving... Wilson-Lee does a fine job of capturing the intellectual excitement of a moment in European history' New Statesman

'Edward Wilson-Lee's fascinating and beautifully written account of how Hernando conceived and assembled his library is set within a highly original biography of the compiler. It's a work of imagination restrained by respect for evidence, of brilliance suitably alloyed by erudition, and of scholarship enlivened by sensitivity and acuity' Literary Review

'Hernando Columbus deserves to be as famous as his father, Christopher... Wilson-Lee's greatest strength is the subtlety with which Hernando's public life as a courtier and his private life as a collector are interwoven ... Wilson-Lee leads us almost by stealth to an understanding of his subject's greatest achievement' Spectator

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