William Godwin's Diary


The London Institution was established at a public meeting held at the London Tavern in May 1805. It was conceived of as an ‘association for the advancement of literature and the diffusion of useful knowledge among its proprietors’. The proprietors numbered 950 by April 1806. A royal charter was obtained in 1807 and by the end of that year it had raised in excess of £82,000 in capital. Among its primary objectives were ‘to form an extensive library’ and ‘to procure Courses of Lectures to be given in Literature, Science, and Art’. The principal librarian in 1830 assessed the library’s merit as follows: ‘The Classical Department is excellent, and includes the best Translations into English, French, and Italian. In Science, particularly Mathematics, the Library is well supplied, and it contains many expensive and valuable works relating to Antiquities and the Fine Arts’. See Adam Scott, The London Institution as it has been and as it ought to be (London: Mann Nephews, 1854).