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Name: Liam Sims

PhD: English

Thesis Title: Antiquarianism, science and networks of knowledge: the archives of the Spalding Gentlemen's Society, 1710-1760


Thesis Description

The Spalding Gentlemen's Society, founded in 1710 by the Lincolnshire lawyer Maurice Johnson (1688-1755) and still in existence today, was a centre of scholarly and antiquarian research in the first half of the eighteenth century. Members discussed scientific discoveries, curious objects brought to meetings and generally tried to make sense of the world around them, leaving behind a rich archive. My research seeks to consider Johnson's own role in his Society, the nature of its very broad intellectual interests, connections forged with other individuals and societies, and the role played by books and objects in the creation of networks of knowledge. Of especial interest are the sociable origins of the society, in Spalding's coffee houses and inns, and the role of gender in this seemingly entirely masculine society.


Supervisors and Institutions

Dr Kate Loveman (Leicester University)

Professor Roey Sweet (Leicester University)

Dr Dustin Frazier Wood (Spalding Gentlemen's Society & Roehampton University)


Professional Affiliations

  • Fellow: Society of Antiquaries of London
  • Council Member: Bibliographical Society
  • Vice-Chair: Historic Libraries Forum
  • Editor: Transactions of the Cambridge Bibliographical Society



  • "'Remarks on books profound': the library of Jane Dalton" in Transactions of the Cambridge Bibliographical Society XVI/1 (2016)
  • "'Simple and exquisite tastes': the literary world of A. T. Bartholomew" in The Book Collector (Autumn 2016)
  • "'Scandalous and libellous books': the Arc Collection at Cambridge University Library" in Transactions of the Cambridge Bibliographical Society XV/4 (2015)


About me

My undergraduate degree in Ancient History (King's College London, 2004-7) led me - via a period of volunteering in the British Museum - to my career in Librarianship. After a year's traineeship in the Wren Library at Trinity College Cambridge (2007-8), and an MA in Library & Information Studies (UCL, 2008-9), I began to focus on special collections. Short term posts in the Old Library at Jesus College (cataloguing the family library of the eighteenth-century economist T. R. Malthus) and Cambridge University Library (cataloguing early printed books in the British & Foreign Bible Society collection) were followed by a move to the Rare Books Department of Cambridge University Library in 2012, where I have been a Rare Books Specialist since 2016.

University email address:

Twitter: @liamsims

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