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Due to refurbishment works in the Sydney Jones Library, Special Collections and Archives is closed to users from Monday 3 June until Monday 16 September (inclusive). We're still available for your enquiries via email.

Special Collections & Archives: 'A gift from Greenbank': reconstructing the Rathbone libraryaccredited archive service logo

SC&A includes manuscripts and archives, medieval to modern; early and finely printed books, and science fiction collections.

'A gift from Greenbank': reconstructing the Rathbone library

Image of title page with floral hand drawn illustrationThis exhibition is the result of a project to trace and record books donated to the University of Liverpool by the Rathbones: a Liverpool family of non-conformist merchants and shipowners, philanthropists, politicians and social reformers, artists and patrons of the arts.

The exhibition focuses on two significant donations of books from Greenbank: which was the Rathbone family home from 1787 until 1944. These donations were made towards the end of the Rathbones’ time at Greenbank, and include books that belonged to several generations of  the family. Each book has a story to tell, offering a glimpse into the lives of its owners, revealing a family with wide intellectual and artistic interests and varied reading habits, and with strong connections to the wider Liverpool literary and intellectual scene.


Highlights of the exhibition include:

  • Books with illustrations or annotations added by members of the family.
  • A self-published booklet: ​Birds.Verses for Valentines, ​given by Richard Rathbone to his wife Hannah Mary.
  • Inscriptions by prominent Liverpool figures.
  • Rare and highly illustrated books, including Les liliacees - ​with artwork by the most celebrated illustrator of his day, Pierre Redoute, and the highly-illustrated accounts of Cornelis de Bruyn's world travels in the late 17th and early 18th century.