Record Details

Catalog Search

The catalogue of shipwrecked books : Christopher Columbus, his son, and the quest to build the world's greatest library / Edward Wilson-Lee.

Wilson-Lee, Edward, author. (Author).
Image of item

Available copies

  • 2 of 2 copies available at LARL/NWRL Consortium.
  • 1 of 1 copy available at Lake Agassiz Regional Library. (Show preferred library)

Current holds

0 current holds with 2 total copies.

Location Call Number / Copy Notes Barcode Shelving Location Status Due Date
Fertile Public Library 921 COL (Text) 33500013020656 New Available -
Godel Memorial-Warren Library 921 COL (Text) 35500006140907 Main Available -

Record details

  • ISBN: 9781982111397
  • ISBN: 1982111399
  • Physical Description: 401 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations (some color), maps ; 24 cm
  • Edition: First Scribner hardcover edition.
  • Publisher: New York : Scribner, 2019.

Content descriptions

General Note: "Originally published in Great Britain in 2018 by William Collins"-- Title page verso.
Bibliography, etc. Note: Includes bibliographical references (pages 341-375) and index.
Summary, etc.: "The Catalogue of Shipwrecked Books tells the story of the first and greatest visionary of the print age, a man who saw how the explosive expansion of knowledge and information generated by the advent of the printing press would entirely change the landscape of thought and society. He also happened to be Christopher Columbus's illegitimate son. At the peak of the Age of Exploration, while his father sailed across the ocean to explore the boundaries of the known world, Hernando Colón sought to surpass Columbus's achievements by building a library that would encompass the world and include "all books, in all languages and on all subjects." In service of this vision, he spent his life travelling--first to the New World with his father in 1502, surviving through shipwreck and a bloody mutiny off the coast of Jamaica, and later, throughout Europe, scouring the bookstores of the day at the epicenter of printing. The very model of a Renaissance man, Hernando restlessly and obsessively bought thousands and thousands of books, amassing a collection based on the modern conviction that a truly great library should include the kind of material dismissed as ephemeral trash: ballads, pornography, newsletters, popular images, romances, fables. Using an invented system of hieroglyphs, he meticulously catalogued every item in his library, devising the first ever search engine for his rich profusion of books and images and music. A major setback in 1522 gave way to the creation of Hernando's Catalogue of Shipwrecked Books and inspired further refinements to his library, including a design for the first modern bookshelves. In this illuminating and brilliantly researched biography, Edward Wilson-Lee tells an enthralling story of the life and times of the first genius of the print age, a tale with striking lessons for our own modern experiences of information revolution and globalization."--

  • Booklist Reviews : Booklist Reviews 2019 January #1
    *Starred Review* In the 238 books brought to Hispaniola in four chests by Hernando Colón, son of Christobal Colón (Christopher Columbus), Wilson-Lee recognizes the first library in the Americas. And in recounting how that library grew to more than 15,000 volumes, he chronicles the remarkable life of its bibliophile librarian. It is a Renaissance life, astonishing for both its geographic and intellectual breadth. As the son of the world's most famous explorer, Hernando repeatedly sails to the New World, the first time with his father, whose books he gives a place of honor in his burgeoning library and about whom he himself penned a glowing biography. Still, readers will quickly realize that as much as he wanted to retrace his idolized father's voyages across uncharted seas, Hernando yearned even more to carve new routes through the sixteenth century's exploding world of print. In Hernando's obsession with gathering books, maps, pictures, music, and pamphlets, and then systematically cataloguing them—even the volumes lost through shipwreck—Wilson-Lee discerns a prescient anticipation of twenty-first-century cyber search engines. Though much of Hernando's singular library disintegrated after his death, he emerges from this narrative as an archival pioneer, ceaselessly in pursuit of universal knowledge. A potent reminder that a great library originates as a bold adventure. Copyright 2019 Booklist Reviews.

Subject: Colón, Fernando, 1488-1539.
Biblioteca Colombina.
Biblioteca Colombina.
Book collectors > Spain > Biography.
Historians > Spain > Biography.
Bibliographers > Spain > Biography.
Geographers > Spain > Biography.
Book collectors.
Genre: Biography.

Additional Resources