Dr Edward Wilson-Lee's biography, The Catalogue of Shipwrecked Books, tells the incredible forgotten tale of Christopher Columbus' son Hernando, who embarked on a quest to create of library of everything.
Hernando Colón Columbus' extraordinary tale has, until this point, never before been told in English. Edward finds this astonishing, noting, "This is a story that was known about, but largely only to a small group of Spanish book historians. This was a project that was very reciprocal of his father's ideas about circling the world - it was another millenarian grand project, to build this universal library".
Colón’s bibliomania took him back and forth across Europe for three decades. According to Edward, he bought 700 books in Nuremburg over Christmas in 1521, before passing on to Mainz where he bought a thousand more in the course of a month. In a single year in 1530, he visited Rome, Bologna, Modena, Parma, Turin, Milan, Venice, Padua, Innsbruck, Augsburg, Constance, Basle, Fribourg, Cologne, Maastricht, Antwerp, Paris, Poitiers and Burgos, voraciously buying all he could lay his hands on.
In addition to creating his library, Colón accompanied his father on explorations of the new world and wrote the first biography of Columbus; he was also a ground-breaking mapmaker and gathered unparalleled collections of music, images and plants.
You can find out more about Hernando's fascinating life by reading Edward's new book which is set to be published this month by William Collins.
You can also listen to Edward discussing his book on Open Book, Radio 4: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0b3bb2f
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