The Friends of the National Libraries' latest annual report gives details of the 47 grants that were awarded during the year. The short essays on each grant are rich in fascinating detail about the items acquired and their context. The grants awarded by FNL came to a grant total of £299,846 - the highest in our history. In addition two generous charitable foundations gave £281,000 through FNL as further contributions to help The Ruskin - Library, Museum and Research Centre at Lancaster University acquire the immense and pre-eminent Ruskin Whitehouse collection. These brought to the total grants awarded during the year to over half a million pounds.
On what would have been Dickens's 208th birthday The Charles Dickens Museum has acquired 300 items from the most substantial private collection of Dickens material in the world, with the help of FNL and other funders. The items acquired by the Museum include 144 handwritten letters by Dickens (25 of which are unpublished), personal items including writing implements and jewellery, original artwork by the illustrators of Dickens’s books, including George Cruikshank, John Leech, Hablot Knight Browne (Phiz), Joseph Clayton Clarke (Kyd) and Frank Reynolds, a range of unpublished manuscripts and letters written by others in Dickens’s circle and 25 books from Dickens’s own library.
On 19th March 2019, at a reception in London, the Vice-Chancellor of Lancaster University announced the purchase of the Whitehouse Ruskin Collection. This purchase has secured for the nation an unparalleled collection of the paintings and drawings, books and manuscripts, photographs and daguerreotypes of John Ruskin (1819–1900), the epoch-defining critic, artist, environmentalist and social thinker.