Hatton Collection

A large collection of books on English Local History

Ruins at Bradgate from John Throsby 'Select views in Leicestershire, from original drawings'.

This collection was donated in 1920-21, to coincide with the opening of the Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland College - the first incarnation of the University of Leicester - by Thomas Hatton (1876-1943) a Leicester boot manufacturer. It was described at the time as a ‘remarkable collection of over 2,000 volumes constituting a topographical library of all England and Wales’. Hatton was a book-lover, who had built up the collection over a period of only about 10 years, through ‘diligence … patience that will not be denied, and … courage akin to daring’. He applied these same qualities to every area of his extraordinary life and, as a result, succeeded as a boxing promoter, founded a crossword-puzzle company, introduced greyhound racing to Leicester and became a leading authority on Charles Dickens.  In October 1938, the Leicester Evening Mail dubbed him ‘Tommy (What a Life!) Hatton’ and summed him up with the words, ‘he loved a gamble and never shirked hard work’.

The collection contains editions of most of the major county histories, such as works by William Lambarde, Richard Carew and William Dugdale. Also included in the collection are Throsby's Select views in Leicestershire, 1791; Nichols' History and antiquities of the county of Leicestershire, 1795 and William Burton's The description of Leicestershire, in the 1622 and 1777 editions. The books are housed in the David Wilson Library, and are available to consult in Special Collections.

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