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Destroyed, Damaged and Replaced: The Legacy of World War II Bomb Damage in the King's Library

Adrian S. Edwards (notes)

Abstract

In the early hours of 23 September 1940, an incendiary bomb fell on the East Wing of the British Museum, damaging an important part of the King's Library Gallery and destroying many of the books collected by King George III. A contemporary assessment estimated that 124 volumes (96 works) had disappeared, 304 volumes (170 works) had been damaged beyond repair, and about 1000 volumes were repairable. This article reviews these figures in the light of an audit of the shelves undertaken in 2010-11, identifies what was lost and describes measures taken by the British Museum and the British Library to replace the books that were affected.

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