The Enemies of Books

by William Blades


William Blades was an bibliophile and book collector of the 1800s. Born in 1824, he was a printer and a bibliographer. His father owned a printing business that Blades was apprenticed into, and it became known as Blades, East & Blades. He was especially passionate about collecting and preserving works by William Caxton, resulting in the publication of Life and Typography of William Caxton, England’s First Printer (1861-3).

Blades wrote this humorous account of various forces that can intentionally or accidentally destroy book collections, ranging from pests and fire to women and children. Blades’ accounts give readers an insight on the lifestyle and technology of a previous era, highlighting gas lamps and asbestos stoves for example. While his advice is antiquated, Blades offers an interesting and irreverent account of a serious need. Books, after all, are fragile and in need of the utmost care regardless of the century.

This edition is dedicated to Lindsey Larson of American Public University, busy helpmate to scholars and researchers, never idle and always curious.