The Anthony Davis Book Collecting Prize 2019-2020

About the Prize

Senate House Library and the Institute of English Studies are offering, for the sixth time, a prize to a student of the University of London (including the School of Advanced Study and any of the Colleges of the University) for a coherent collection of printed and/or manuscript materials.

Stock photo - book collection researchThe winner will receive £600, an allowance of £300 to purchase a book for Senate House Library’s special collections in collaboration with library staff, and the opportunity to give a seminar on their winning collection within an Institute of English Studies seminar series.

The prize is generously funded by Mr Anthony Davis, a graduate of the University.

It is possible to enter the prize more than once. The standard has been very high and failure one year does not mean failure the next.

Its purpose

The prize is intended to encourage the collecting of books, printed and manuscript materials by students of the University by recognising a collection formed by a student at an early stage in their collecting career. All undergraduates and postgraduates of the University, including its Colleges, both part-time and full-time, are encouraged to enter.

Building your collection

The collection must consist of not less than 10 printed and/or manuscript items reflecting a common theme, which the collector has deliberately assembled as the start of a collection and intends to grow.

We stress that the intention is to encourage collecting and we expect that applicants’ collections will be embryonic, so their size, age and value are irrelevant. What is much more important is the enthusiasm and commitment of the collector, the interest of the theme and the vision of how the collection will be developed.

What is a collection?

One question often asked is, what is a collection? There is no good definition – it is sometimes said that a collection is assembled for its own sake, consisting of a number of items related in some way, by someone who is interested in them as objects, rather than being purely used as tools for research, for example.

Previous winners include: Musa Igrek from Goldsmiths’ College for his collection ‘Divine Power’, on secretly funded books, and Lucy Vinten Mattich, a MA student in archives, for her collection of household manuals from the 18th to the 20th centuries. Read the news story here

To guide you

The prize follows the tradition of similar prizes awarded at universities in the United Kingdom and United States. You may find it helpful to look at the following links to get an idea of the kind of collections which are likely to interest the judges:

The Rose Book-Collecting Prize at Cambridge University. The Colin Franklin Book Collecting Prize at the University of Oxford. The Adrian Van Sinderen Book Collecting Prize at Yale University. The Philip Hofer Prize for Collecting Books or Art at the Houghton Library, Harvard.

Get started

Read the procedures and rules for the prize.

Download the Cover Sheet form (Word Doc file, 134 KB).

Send your Cover Sheet form and application in hard copy to The Library Office Manager, Room 524, Senate House Library, University of London, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU or email your Cover Sheet and submission to

Further information

If you require any more information please contact the Library Office Manager, Senate House Library at or phone 020 7862 8411.