On the evening of 1 May at Sotheby's New York, friends and fellow bibliophiles gathered to discuss the pleasures of the personal library. "It's a lovely thing to sit in a room full of books," remarked the Duke of Devonshire. Co-hosting with the Duke was his son-in-law Nicky Dunne, managing director of beloved London bookshop Heywood Hill. Joining them in conversation was Michael F Suarez, SJ director of the Rare Book School at the University of Virginia.
In the Library by Loro Piana – a fitting venue inside Sotheby's – guests such as Aerin Lauder and Glenda Bailey listened rapt as the Duke shared some favorites from the 18,000-volume library at Chatsworth House, the Cavendish family home in Derbyshire. The Duke is the owner of Heywood Hill, which was frequented by his parents Andrew, the 11th Duke, and Deborah, whose sister Nancy Mitford, the novelist, was famously an assistant in the store early 1940s.
Dunne spoke of the shop's history and its thriving present and reminded the audience that personal bookshelves are "documents of your mind." Apart from the array of old and new titles in its Mayfair shop, Heywood Hill offers its expertise to clients wishing to create their own libraries on any topic, from Modernism to marathon running. Those who might be daunted by the prospect of starting a collection would be reassured by a thought from Dunne: "What is a library?" he asked. "It starts with a single book."
Click here to learn about Heywood Hill.
To explore the historic collections at Chatsworth House, watch Sotheby's Webby Award-winning video series Treasures of Chatsworth, Presented by Huntsman.
Thinking of starting your own personal library? Browse Sotheby’s upcoming Fine Books and Manuscripts Online sale (bidding open 18–28 June).