A Gentleman’s Library: Thomas Jefferson (1771)


A Virginia Gentleman’s Library: As Proposed by Thomas Jefferson to Robert Skipwith in 1771 and Now Assembled in the Brush-Everard House, Williamsburg, Virginia.

On 17 July 1771 Robert Skipwith, Thomas Jefferson’s future brother-in-law, wrote to the then 28 year-old Jefferson, asking for advice on acquiring books for his personal library “suited to the capacity of a common reader who understands but little of the classicks and who has not leisure for any intricate or tedious study.”

Jefferson wrote back of course and recommended a list of books for the amount of £107.10 – a hefty amount in 1771, (equivalent to £13,314.17 in 2014).

Published by Colonial Williamsburg, I was pleasantly surprised that this was printed letterpress; the deep red imprint of the “Library” is striking on the frontcover. I thoroughly enjoyed the well-written introduction by Arthur Pierce Middleton, dated 1952 and though the pamphlet itself is only 15 pages, it is a wonderful short read indeed.

Availability: I purchased this small staple-bound pamphlet from Oak Knoll for $7 mainly due to Jefferson’s name and the catch phrase “A Gentleman’s Library”. Yes I’m a sucker for anything Gentleman. Oak Knoll still lists a copy though I believe these are mass produced and maybe still available.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s