Collections and Newspapers

The Harold Acton Library has one of the largest lending collections of books in English in continental Europe.



The Library was born from smaller donated collections and has matured into the present collection of over 50,000 volumes of books published between the 16th and 21st centuries. About 500 new titles are added to the collection every year.

The collection gives particular focus to History of Art, English and Italian literature and language, History, Travel, The Grand Tour, and Music.

The Library has a valuable collection of rare books including many signed first editions. These are reference copies and may be consulted in the Library only.


The Grand Tour Digital Resource

An incomparable on-line resource of manuscript, visual and printed works developed by Adam Matthew Digital. Sources come from the Beinecke Library, the Paul Mellon Centre, the Chaney Library, the British Library, our own archive and others. The resource includes manuscripts of prominent figures, rare and essential printed sources, visual material including paintings and sketches of Italy and the Continent, and a searchable version of Ingamell's Dictionary of British and Irish Travellers in Italy, 1701-1800. The database is only accessible to British Institute Library members in the Library.


The Harold Acton Library Suggested Reading Guide



Please note that we keep the newspapers only for one day

The Daily Telegraph

Financial Times

The International New York Times

La Repubblica

Current Periodicals

Blending (only current issue)

The Burlington Magazine, 1922 - 

The Early English Text Society

The Economist (only current issue)

Ethology, Ecology & Evolution (only current issue) 

Florence news (only current issue) 

The Florentine, 2005 - 

TLS (The Times Literary Supplement), 1918 -

Wanted in Rome (only current issue)

Periodical back issues

Along with contemporary periodicals we keep a vast collection of periodicals many dating from the 19th century. Search here.

How can I help? Donate a book.

As you may be aware the British Institute receives no funding from the UK Government. We are very fortunate to be able to count on the generous support of donors both institutional and individual for the maintenance of the Library and Archives.

We are frequently asked the question “How can I help support the British Institute Library?” One practical way you can help is to buy a book for the British Institute. Here we have compiled a list of books which we would love to add to the collection.

If you would like to buy one of these books for the Library please get in touch with the Library staff and tell us which book you would like to buy. All donors’ names will be included in our collection catalogue. Prices listed here are indicative and may change.

Most recent desiderata (books we would like):

Conservation Legacies of the Florence Flood of 1966: Proceedings of the Symposium Commemorating the 40th Anniversary, Helen Spande (ed.) £35.00

The Fascist Party and Popular Opinion in Mussolini’s Italy, Paul Corner (Oxford University Press, 2012) £59.98

Fascist Voices: An Intimate History of Mussolini’s Italy, Christopher Duggan (Oxford University Press, 2013) £20.00

Prefaces to Shakespeare; Tony Tanner (Harvard, 2010) £29.95

A Face to the World: On Self-Portraits; Laura Cumming (HarperCollins, 2010) £18.99

A Book of Secrets: Illegitimate Daughters - Absent Fathers; Michael Holroyd (Chatto & Windus, 2010) £16.99

Networking the nation: British and American Women’s poetry and Italy, 1840-1870, OUP, 2015, £60

Additional desiderata:

The Grove Encyclopedia of Northern Renaissance Art; Gordon Campbell (ed.); £275.00

Henry Moore; Chris Stephens; £18.71

Windows to the Sun: D.H. Lawrence's Thought-adventures; Earl G. Ingersoll; £41.33

Reception of D.H. Lawrence in Europe (Reception of British and Irish Authors in Europe); Dieter Mehl; £118.75

Re-Reading Leonardo: The "Treatise on Painting" Across Europe, 1550-1900; Claire Farago; £61.75

Pompeo Batoni: Prince of Painters in Eighteenth-Century Rome; EP Bowron; £38.00

Vital Crises in Italian Cinema: Iconography, Stylistics, Politics; P.Adams Sitney; £29.98

Italian Frescoes: The High Renaissance and Mannerism (Italian Frescoes); Julian Kliemann; £80.75

Imagined Interiors: Representing the Domestic Interior Since the Renaissance; Jeremy Aynsley; £31.50

Venice, Cita Excelentissima: Selections from the Renaissance Diaries of Marin Sanudo; Patricia H. Labalme; £32.19

The English Opium-Eater; Robert Morrison; £25.00

The Houses We Live In: An Identification Guide to the History and Style of American Domestic Architecture; Jeffrey Howe (ed.), £43.61

The Europa World of Learning 2010, 60th ed.; Routledge £550.00

L’inchiostro del Mago, Franco Marucci, €25.00 (NB euros)

Hauntings and Other Fantastic Tales; Catherine Maxwell, Patricia Pulham (eds.); £15.50

Recent editions of:
Italian/English dictionaries eg Garzanti, Zanichelli
Italian dictionaries eg Zingarelli


Many thanks indeed to those who have donated the following:

Italian Frescoes: The Baroque Era 1600-1800: 5; Steffi Roettgen; Robert Sandell

Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure; Ann Warren

A History of the World in 100 Objects; Lucy Ghini

The Pike: Gabriele D’Annunzio, Lucy Hughes-Hallett (auth.)

Fra Filippo Lippi: Life and Work; Robert Blesse and Victoria Davies

Absolutism in Renaissance Milan: Plenitude of Power under the Visconti and the Sforza 1329-1535; Jane Black

Holy Warriors: A Modern History of the Crusades; Jonathan Phillips

Italian Frescoes: The Age of Giotto 1280-1400; Joachim Poeschke

The Triumph of Marriage: Painted Cassoni of the Renaissance; Cristelle Baskins

The Oxford Companion to the Book (2 vols); Michael F. Suarez

Vernon Lee, Decadence, Ethics, Aesthetics; Catherine Maxwell, Patricia Pulham (eds.)

Ill Fares the Land: a Treatise on Our Present Discontents; Kit Fattorini                                             

Dreamers of a New Day: Women Who Invented the 20th Century; Carla Bono

Classical Sculpture and the Culture of Collecting in Britain since 1760; Carla Bono