Hemlock and After by Angus Wilson

Hemlock and After

Angus WIlson

This is a unique reading list - these books were all written by librarians and most of them were recommended to us by librarians. If any profession is well qualified to write books then librarians truly fit the bill.

Librarians are loyal customers of AbeBooks and we tend to listen when they speak. But it was interesting to see so many librarians recommend Casanova's autobiography - were they trying to tell us something? This famous Italian adventurer and lover was a librarian in the household of the German nobleman Count Waldstein.

The authors on this list range from the top dogs at the Library of Congress to folks who have worked at the national libraries of Argentina, France and Sweden, and people who have checked books in and out at public and school libraries.

We decided to exclude Chairman Mao and his Little Red Book. This one-time librarian at Peking University is perhaps the most widely read of all librarians who wrote but it was under extraordinary circumstances (although it is now rumoured that the book was ghostwritten). Our featured book (pictured at left) is Hemlock and After by Angus Wilson, illustrated by Ronald Searle, and was a bestseller in 1952. Wilson was a librarian in the British museum.

Librarian Lit

Star Man’s Son by Alice Mary (Andre) Norton
Star Man's Son
by Alice Mary (Andre) Norton

A post-apocalyptic tale from 1952 – Norton was a librarian in Cleveland and the Library of Congress.

Books in My Baggage: Adventures in Reading and Collecting by Lawrence Clark Powell
Books in My Baggage
by Lawrence Clark Powell

Clark Powell was a librarian at UCLA and the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library.

Jill by Philip Larkin
Jill
by Philip Larkin

Larkin was a librarian at the University of Hull. Jill is a novel about life in Oxford during WWII.

A Winter’s Love by Madeleine L’Engle
A Winter's Love
by Madeleine L'Engle

L'Engle was a volunteer librarian in New York.  A scarce novel about a troubled marriage.

Collected Poems by Marianne Moore
Collected Poems
by Marianne Moore

This modernist poet, noted for her wit, worked in the New York Public Library in the 1920s.

Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron
Higher Power of Lucky
by Susan Patron

Patron won a Newbery Award for this children's book. She worked at the Los Angeles Public Library.

The Feud by Thomas Berger
The Feud
by Thomas Berger

A novel about conflict in small town 1930s America - Berger was a librarian and journalist.

The Wild Old Wicked Man and Other Poems by Archibald MacLeish
The Wild Old Wicked Man and Other Poems
by Archibald MacLeish

MacLeish was Librarian of Congress from 1939 to 1944.  He was also a playwright, journalist, lawyer and statesman.

The Giant’s House by Elizabeth McCracken
The Giant's House
by Elizabeth McCracken

Written by a former public librarian, this novel (about a librarian) was a National Book Award nominee.

The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary
The Mouse and the Motorcycle
by Beverly Cleary

Cleary worked as a children's librarian in Yakima, Washington, before writing many children's books.

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee
by Dee Brown

An agriculture librarian at the University of Illinois, Brown's 1971 book remains a non-fiction classic.

Ill Starred Captains: Flinders and Baudin by Anthony J. Brown
Ill Starred Captains: Flinders and Baudin
by Anthony J. Brown

Brown was a former librarian from the State Library of South Australia.

Doctor Brodie’s Report by Jorge Luis Borges
Doctor Brodie's Report
by Jorge Luis Borges

Borges was a director of Argentina's National Public Library - this is a collection of 11 short stories.

Miss Julie by August Strindberg
Miss Julie
by August Strindberg

Strindberg worked for eight years as an assistant librarian at Sweden's National Library.

Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant by Anne Tyler
Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant
by Anne Tyler

This novel was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Tyler is a former librarian and bibliographer.

Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson
Out Stealing Horses
by Per Petterson

An ex-librarian AND a bookseller, Petterson's novel was one of the NY Times' books of the year in 2007.

Story of the Eye by Georges Bataille
Story of the Eye
by Georges Bataille

Histoire de L'Oeil is a controversial novel from 1928. Bataille was an archivist at France's National Library.

Vertical Poetry by Roberto Juarroz
Vertical Poetry
by Roberto Juarroz

Juarroz was head of Bibliotechnology & Informational Science at the University of Buenos Aires

Bachelor Brothers' Bed & Breakfast by Bill Richardson
Bachelor Brothers' Bed & Breakfast
by Bill Richardson

This Canadian is a Master of Library Science. This book won the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour.

The Legate’s Daughter by Wallace Breem
The Legate's Daughter
by Wallace Breem

Breem was a legal manuscripts librarian in London – this novel is Roman kidnap adventure.

Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village by Laura Amy Schlitz
Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village
by Laura Amy Schlitz

A novel set in medieval England in1255. Schiltz is a school librarian in Maryland.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows

A true bookperson, Shaffer worked as a librarian but also in bookselling and publishing.

The Story of My Life by Giacomo Casanova
The Story of My Life
by Giacomo Casanova

This great lover was a librarian in Count Waldstein's household where he wrote his autobiography.

The Image or What Happened to the American Dream by Daniel J Boorstin
The Image or What Happened to the American Dream
by Daniel J Boorstin

Boorstin was the 12th Librarian at the Library of Congress from 1975 to 1987.

Chewing the Scenery by Davina Elliott
Chewing the Scenery
by Davina Elliott

Davina worked for London's Westminster Libraries and still volunteers at St James's Library.

Who is your favourite librarian who writes?



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