Richard Heber born 5 January 1773 (d. 1833)
Richard Heber, an English book-collector, was born in London.
As an undergraduate at Brasenose College, Oxford, he began to collect a purely classical library, but his taste broadening, he became interested in early English drama and literature, and began his wonderful collection of rare books in these departments. He attended continental book sales, purchasing sometimes single volumes, sometimes whole libraries. Sir Walter Scott, whose intimate friend he was, classed Heber's library as 'superior to all others in the world'; Campbell described him as 'the fiercest and strongest of all the "bibliomaniacs"'.
He did not confine himself to the purchase of a single copy of a work which took his fancy. 'No gentleman,' he remarked, 'can be without three copies of a book, one for show, one for use, and one for borrowers.' To such a size did his library grow that it over-ran eight houses, some in England, some on the Continent. It is estimated to have cost over £100,000, and after his death the sale of that part of his collection stored in England realised more than £56,000. He is known to have owned 150,000 volumes, and probably many more. He possessed extensive landed property in Shropshire and Yorkshire, and was sheriff of the former county in 1821, was member of Parliament for Oxford University from 1821-1826, and in 1822 was made a DCL of that University. He was one of the founders of the Athenaeum Club, London.
According to Martin Greif's marvellous The Gay Book of Days, Heber was 'forced to leave England in exile after public disclosure of his "unnatural acts"', but corroboration of this has been hard to find.
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