Archives & Library

Library Collections

The library collections cover British painting, sculpture, drawing, prints, decorative arts, architecture and garden history from the medieval period to the present day. The collections on British artists and architects, the British and Irish country house and the eighteenth-century Grand Tour are particularly strong.

Fiona MacCarthy

More than one hundred and fifty books and two bankers' boxes of pamphlets. This material has been partially logged on the Library and Photographic Archive catalogue. It is searchable but not fully catalogued. It is available for consultation. Some of the material is kept in Library Special Collections.

The collection comprises books acquired by Fiona MacCarthy to support the wide-ranging and in-depth research she undertook for her publications. The material selected for the Centre’s Library includes: books and exhibition catalogues written by the author; material on William Morris, including some scarce nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century publications; and books on the history of bookbinding and fine press publishing.

There are also numerous published pamphlets extracted from MacCarthy’s archive files. These reflect her many publishing projects and are particularly strong on individual artists and designers as well as the history of design.

The collection was donated to the Paul Mellon Centre by Corin Mellor in 2023.

The Centre also holds Fiona MacCarthy’s archive.

Fiona Caroline MacCarthy (1940–2020) was a biographer and cultural historian best known for her studies of nineteenth- and twentieth-century art and design. She worked as a journalist corresponding on art and design. Her biographies of Eric Gill (1884–1940) and William Morris (1834–1896) received great critical acclaim. She was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature (1997) and was awarded the Bicentenary Medal of the Royal Society of Arts. MacCarthy was appointed OBE in 2009.