Thursday, September 10, 2009

Henry Stevens, Green Mountain Boy

Henry Stevens (1819-1886) was a native of Vermont who moved to London, England in 1845 and established a book business which helped build great libraries in the United States and Great Britain. He never forgot his Vermont roots, however, and was fond of using the initials GMB after his name which stood for Green Mountain Boy. He played a major role in building the library of James Lenox of New York which was one of the entities which merged in 1895 to form the New York Public Library. He later wrote Recollections of Mr. James Lennox of New York and the Formation of His Library about this experience. He also was instrumental in building the Americana collection of the British Museum. Wyman W. Parker in his book Henry Stevens of Vermont: American Rare Book Dealer in London, 1845-1886 (N. Israel, Amsterdam, 1963) describes Stevens' remarkable career dealing in rare books. Although an American, he had no problem integrating into the 19th century book world of London, and was well respected in his adopted country. He was particularly well thought of for his role in the Library Association of Great Britain. A tribute to Stevens is contained in the British book Essays in Librarianship and Bibliography by Richard Garnett (George Allen, London, 1899). The postal card above was mailed by H. O. Coxe, President of the Library Association in 1881 to Stevens (as well as other members of the Association) to gain approval for a change of venue for the Association's 1881 meeting. Henry was not the only member of the Stevens family who relocated to London for a career in book selling. His brother Benjamin Franklin (Frank) Stevens did the same in 1860.

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