While much research has been done recently on the writings and printers of King James VI and I, his libraries have largely remained a mystery, forming a major lacuna in renaissance book history. Now that his libraries—Scottish and English—are being reconstructed, this paper will present new findings on the collections of Britain’s most bookish monarch. As well as discussing James’s relationship to and use of his books, it will reveal the people who helped and hindered his acquisitions, from his librarians and book agents to spies, pirates, and poison traders. The paper will also reflect on methodological possibilities and challenges for library reconstructions. This will range from more traditional bibliographical aspects such as identifying James’s bookbindings, to newer digital methods such as the CERL-hosted database of King James’s libraries currently under construction.
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