Sylee Gore wins the Colin Franklin Prize for Book Collecting

Colin Franklin Prize for Book Collecting
by Silke Lohmann

The winner of the University of Oxford's 'Colin Franklin Prize for Book-Collecting' has just been announced by the Bodleian Libraries. The prize is awarded each year to a student of the University of Oxford for an essay about a treasured book collection.

Named after Colin Franklin, bibliographer, book collector, and a friend to bibliophiles in Oxford, it is now made possible through the generosity of Mr Anthony Davis.

This year's winner is Sylee Gore, who is doing an MST in Creative Writing at Kellogg College. Her diverse collection, principally of photographic books, attempts to recapture 10 years in the life of a city: ‘Self-portrait of a city in print: Berlin 2001-2010’.  The judges praised this in-depth examination of a particular place and time, recaptured and preserved in the books collected.

Four students entered this year and the award was judged on the coherence and inspiration showing through the collection, and on how well the student expressed their passion for their collection, and the motives compelling them along their collecting journey, navigating the successes (and sometimes failures) along the way.

Judging by the inspiring essay titles, it must have been a difficult decision for the judges this year. Julie Hamilton's, ‘Ancient and modern voices from Egypt,’ was highly commended. Rowan Curtis wrote about 'On the Darker Shades of Greene and other 20th/21st Century Fiction,' and Hew Gill's essay 'Four Anniversaries and a Funeral,' described his collection of books about Singapore, where he has spent significant parts of his life.

We particularly liked to see the young book collectors taking joy in the material form of their books. The judges were especially pleased to read that Ms Hamilton took a few of her books to be given custom bindings by a fourth-generation bookbinder in Cairo.

Entries for the 2021 prize will be due next January, but for students studying for a degree at a London-based university, there is an opportunity to submit entries by the 25th April 2020 to the Anthony Davis Book Collecting Prize.

The prize is offered by UCL Special Collections this year, previously administered by Senate House Library, and provides budding book collectors the opportunity to grow their book collection. 

Sponsor of the Prize, Anthony Davis, a Lawyer and London graduate, said: “The history of the book is a history of human knowledge and it is vitally important to continue to encourage people to enjoy books or whole areas of human experience will vanish. We have had some wonderful entries and exceptional winners in London over the years and there have been several who have written subsequently to thank us for the opportunity to talk about their books and for the positive effect winning the prize has had on their careers. It is an extremely moving experience meeting these young people and seeing their collections and enthusiasm grow.”

It is open to students with a themed collection of printed and/or manuscript materials. Its purpose is to encourage collectors among London’s student body who are at an early stage of collecting books, printed materials, and/or manuscripts.

The winner will get £600 plus an allowance of £300 to purchase a book for UCL special collections in collaboration with the Head of Rare Books at UCL; give a talk about the collection and display part of their collection within UCL to inspire other collectors. Like its Oxford companion, the winner will also receive a one-year subscription to The Book Collector of course.


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