Finzi Book Room

The Finzi Book Room Collection consists of the literature collection of the English composer Gerald Finzi (1901-1956). There are about 6,000 printed volumes. English poetry, especially that written during the collector's lifetime, is a particular strength. Book collecting was a lifelong activity for Finzi, secondary to but parallel with his composition, in which choral works and settings of poetry are significant.

The following authors are well represented: Edmund Blunden, W H Davies, Walter De la Mare, John Masefield, Robert Graves, John Drinkwater and Siegfried Sassoon. Many modern books retain their dust wrappers and contain cuttings. Several copies were presented by those authors the Finzis counted among their friends and associates. 

The collection also includes some pieces from the Book Room in the Finzi's home at Ashmansworth, memorabilia, and pictures, including seven original portrait drawings by Joy Finzi (1907-1991).

As well as the literary collection, Special Collections holds some personal papers of the Finzis (MS 1399). There is also a large collection of music and books about music which are held by the University Library. Finzi's manuscripts were passed to the Bodleian Library.

The Papers of Gerald and Joy Finzi include a holograph manuscript of Thomas Hardy's poem, We Field-Women. For more information, see our featured item for May 2008.

The collection was deposited in the University Library by his family in 1974, and was housed in a separate room on the 5th floor of the Library for over 30 years. The collection is now shelved with the other rare book collections in the closed access store at the Special Collections Services at Redlands Road.

The Finzi Room Poetry Reading Seminars are held annually at the University of Reading. The following is a list of the speakers:

2012 George Szirtes

2009-10 Bill Manhire

2008-09 Colette Bryce and Patrick McGuinness

2007-08 Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin

2006-07 Bernard O’Donoghue

2004-05 UA Fanthrope and Rosie Bailey

2003-04 Paul Muldoon

2002-03 Craig Raine

2001-02 John Fowler

1999-00 Andrew Motion (25th anniversary of the Finzi Book Room)

1997-98 Jo Shapcott

1996-97 Matthew Sweeney

1993-94 Bernard O’Donoghue

1992-3 John Wain (who gave the first in 1977)

1991-92 Tom Lowenstein

1990-91 John Wells

1989-90 Tom Paulin

1988-89 Donald Davie

1987-88 Marion Lomax

1986-87 Christopher Salvesen

1985-86 Ursula Fanthrope

1984-85 Professor Charles Tomlinson

1983-84 Edward Thomas

1982-83 Alan Brownjohn

1981-82 Andrew Motion

1980-81 Edward Storey

1979-80 Laurence Whistler

1978-79 John Heath–Stubbs

1977-78 John Wain

More information

  • Nearly half the collection is catalogued and appears on Enterprise.
  • Pauline Dingley The Finzi Book Room at the University of Reading : a catalogue. Reading, University of Reading, 1981.

    Available as a PDF:

  • Gerald Finzi: biographical information
  • Andrew Burn `Quiet composure : the Finzi Book Room, Reading University', Country life, 181:29, 16 July 1987, p. 118-119.
    Joy Finzi In that place: the portrait drawings of Joy Finzi. Marlborough : Libanus Press, 1987.

  • MS 1399
literature printed books (post-1850) Y finzi book room

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