University of London awards the inaugural Anthony Davis Book Collecting Prize

Monday 6 October 2014

Prize winner Hazel WilkinsonThe first Anthony Davis Book Collecting Prize at the University of London has been awarded to Hazel Wilkinson, a PhD student in English Literature at University College London, for her collection ‘The everyday canon from Tonson to Penguin’. A runner’s up prize was also awarded to Kayleigh Betterton, an MA student at Birkbeck, for a collection of Oscar Wilde material.

The Prize is funded by Anthony Davis, an alumnus of Birkbeck. It is intended to encourage students of the University in the early stages of developing a coherent and interesting book collection. The Prize is supported by Senate House Library (SHL), the Institute of English Studies (IES), and the Antiquarian Booksellers Association. It consists of £500 for the student personally, and £250 for the purchase of a book which the winner chooses for Senate House Library.

The judges, Anthony Davis, Professor Simon Eliot (IES), Christine Wise (SHL) and Brian Lake and Justin Croft of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association, said they were delighted with the number and quality of all the submissions they received, and with the presentations given by the shortlisted candidates.

Hazel’s winning collection comprises editions of works by major English poets from Spenser to Tennyson published between 1758 and 1957, put together to tell a social history of the reading of these canonical authors.

‘I've enjoyed buying attractive or unusual second-hand books for several years,’ said Hazel. ‘But it was entering this competition that inspired me to actually consider myself a book collector, and to think about the themes and ideas that unite my collection. I am looking forward to developing my book collection further with the help of the prize money, and would like to thank the judges for providing me with this exciting opportunity.’

Kayleigh also impressed the judges with her collection of editions of works by Oscar Wilde, and was awarded a runner’s-up prize for the creative and original way she uses the collection to teach students at Christ the King: Aquinas College, Lewisham. Kayleigh commented: ‘I am over-the-moon to have been awarded the runner-up prize. I think that the award in itself is a fantastic idea. The fact that this prize is aimed at younger people means that it is helping to preserve book collecting as a pastime and secure its longevity for the future. I am hoping to put the prize money towards a first edition of Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest, as my A-level classes will be studying the play next year!’

They will be presented with their prizes at the Chelsea Book Fair on the 7 November 2014. As the winner, Hazel will also have the opportunity to talk about her collection at an Institute of English Studies seminar, to exhibit some of her books at Senate House Library, and to present the item she will choose for Senate House Library’s special collections.

‘It was very exciting to meet young book collectors and share their enthusiasm for their collections,’ said Anthony Davis. ‘Hazel and Kayleigh impressed us enormously but really, any of the shortlist would have been an impressive winner. We look forward to seeing who the winner will be next year. Book collecting has given me a lot of pleasure in my lifetime and I hope that this prize will encourage all the entrants to continue their interest in the knowledge that there are others out there who share their interest. I would also like to thank all the judges and the staff of Senate House Library for their support.’

Enthusiastic collectors studying at the University of London should look out for next year’s Prize which will be advertised soon.

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1. For further information please contact Maureen McTaggart at the School of Advanced Study, University of London at / 020 7862 8653. Images available on request.

2. The University of London is a federal University and is one of the oldest, largest and most diverse universities in the UK. Established by Royal Charter in 1836, the University is recognised globally as a world leader in Higher Education. It consists of 18 self-governing Colleges of outstanding reputation, together with a number of prestigious central academic bodies and activities. Learn more about the University of London at

3. The Institute of English Studies (IES), founded in 1999 out of the Centre for English Studies, is an internationally renowned research centre, dedicated to promoting advanced study and research in English studies in the wider national and international academic community. It provides a centre for excellence in English language, literature, palaeography and the history of the book. Its activities include facilitating academic discussion and the exchange of ideas through its comprehensive events programme, hosting major collaborative research projects, providing essential research training in book history and palaeography, and facilitating scholarly communities in all areas of English studies. The Institute of English Studies is a member institute of the School of Advanced Study, University of London.

4. Senate House Library (SHL) is one of the world’s most significant collections in the arts, humanities and social sciences. With its partner libraries of the Institutes of the School of Advanced Study, it provides services to readers from the School of Advanced Study, the Colleges of the federal University of London, and from London, regional, national and international research communities. All are welcome to join the Library through a membership programme for the University of London, other UK universities, overseas universities, or as a member of the public. The Library and its collections have been continuously developed since the 1870s. It now holds over two million printed books, thousands of printed and electronic journals, and the highest proportion of historic collections of any university library in the United Kingdom.  Modern materials in printed and electronic formats are collected at research level and in Western European languages to support cross- and inter-disciplinary research in subjects such as English Studies, history, philosophy, music, Romance and Germanic languages, palaeography, art history and area studies. Senate House Library also holds the University of London Archive – the historic record of the University – and is responsible for the University of London Artworks Collection. Acquisitions are also made to the Historic Collections, and notable collections include the Goldsmiths’ Library of Economic Literature, the Sterling Library and the Harry Price Library of Magical Literature.

5. The School of Advanced Study, University of London (SAS) is the UK’s national centre for the promotion and support of research in the humanities. SAS and its member institutes offer unparalleled academic opportunities, facilities and stimulation across a wide range of subject areas for the benefit of the national and international scholarly community. In 2012-13, SAS: welcomed 833 research fellows and associates; held 2,231 research dissemination events; received 21.7 million visits to its digital research resources and platforms; and received 194,529 visits to its specialist libraries and collections. Find out more at or follow SAS on Twitter at @SASNews.