Lady Henrietta Cavendish-Holles (1694 – 1755) married Edward Harley, 2nd Earl of Oxford (1689 – 1741) in around 1713. Their marriage brought together her families’ great wealth with the Harleys political power. The couple enjoyed socialising with poets, writers and scholars – their circle of friends included Alexander Pope and Jonathan Swift.
Edward Harley was one of the greatest collectors in Britain’s history, sourcing the rarest and most beautiful silver, curios, paintings, miniatures and books. By the end of his life in 1741, Edward Harley had the largest private library in Britain, containing 50,000 printed books, 7,639 manuscripts, 14,236 rolls and legal documents, 350,000 pamphlets, 41,000 prints.
On his death, the nation bought many of the objects from Edward Harley’s collections; including the Harleian manuscripts which was one of the founding collections of the British Library. A selection of items were kept and treasured by his wife and his daughter, Margaret Duchess of Portland.
Edward Harley: The Great Collector is available to buy from Amazon.