Saving the Honresfield Library

Honresfield Library is a rare treasure trove of literary manuscripts, with works by Jane Austen, Robert Burns, Walter Scott and the Brontës. It is being sold and FNL is spearheading the campaign to save it for the nation. This Big Give appeal is one element of our campaign to raise £15million.

history Campaign has now closed

It ran from 1:00 AM, 17 June 2021 to 10:30 AM, 17 December 2021

Registered Charity in England and Wales (313020)


Campaign target


Amount raised





  • Arts/Culture/HeritageArts/Culture/Heritage


  • General Public/HumankindGeneral Public/Humankind


United Kingdom


A private library of English literature of such significance has not been placed on the open market for many decades or is ever likely to appear again - we need your help to save it for the nation.


FNL is spearheading the campaign to purchase the collection and to pass each manuscript and book to the relevant UK institution, creating a 'distributed national collection'. Among the institutions that will benefit are: Abbotsford: Home of Walter Scott, Melrose, Scotland Bodleian Libraries, Oxford British Library, London National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh Brontë Parsonage Museum, Yorkshire Jane Austen’s House, Hampshire and the Brotherton Library, University of Leeds.

  • Literature and the creative use of the English language are among the great contributions made by the people of these islands. Now is a time to act together to preserve and share some of the greatest examples of this heritage.

    — Richard Ovenden OBE, Trustee of the FNL and Bodley’s Librarian at the Bodleian Libraries

  • Once in a generation, a collection of books and manuscripts appears from almost nowhere that is met with a mixture of awe and stunned silence, followed by concerted action to bring it into public ownership. We are determined to raise the funds to ensure we can save the Honresfield Library for all.

    — John Scally, Trustee of FNL and National Librarian & Chief Executive, National Library of Scotland.

  • FNL is thrilled to be able to take the lead in saving the Honresfield Library. This is a crucial national endeavour to funds to keep this unique treasure trove in Britain. This is cultural levelling up, as the items will be spread across the UK from Yorkshire to Edinburgh, Oxford and London.

    — Charles Sebag-Montefiore, Trustee and Treasurer of FNL