BRIAN NORTH LEE, FSA (1936-2007)
Brian North Lee will be remembered as a remarkable collector and historian of bookplates, with a vast bibliography published on the subject.
He played a leading role in the revival of the interest in bookplate collecting in Great Britain and in the (re)founding of The Bookplate Society, in 1972, at first within the Private Libraries Association and in 1983 as an independent body. In both phases he was an indefatigable worker being the Society’s secretary and editor of its Newsletter, and after 1983, the editor of the renewed Bookplate Journal and later President of the Society.
His contribution to the study and the history of British bookplates is remarkable and outstanding with his scholarly written studies on numerous British bookplate artists, past and present, his study on Early Printed Book Labels, the thorough monograph on British Royal Bookplates and the numerous articles published over the years in the specialised press. They all reveal an insatiable curiosity, a tireless and serious researcher, uncommon power of analysis, a love for knowledge and an eloquent writer.
British bookplates have had in the past eminent historians and collectors, such as H. Fincham, Sir A. W. Franks, J. Marshal and G. H. Viner who left exceedingly valuable works on the subject, but none outpassed Brian North Lee for the depth and variety of his studies all solidly founded and above all his willingness to share knowledge with others.
His role in the international scene, establishing durable bonds between British and American and Continental bookplate lovers was also of paramount importance to end the splendid isolation of the British Isles. In this effort, the acceptance by FISAE of The Bookplate Society as member and the organisation of the FISAE Congress, in Oxford, in 1982 were foundation stones.
I specially recall his articles on British bookplates and contemporary English bookplate Artists published in the former Portuguese Ex Libris Association journal - A Arte do Ex-Líbris, and his contributions for the volumes of the multilingual Bookplate Artists, edited by A. Mota Miranda on behalf of FISAE, all contributing for a wide propagation of British bookplates in the international scene.
I never had the privilege of meeting Brian North Lee, but being a keen collector of British bookplates, I have always been an avid reader of his works and papers on bookplates, standing as they do, as references in the field.
With his death the bookplate community is poorer and suffered a great loss, since man of his standing are not easily replaced.
We present our deepest condolecenses to The Bookplate Society.
See, The Bookplate Society website http://www.bookplatesociety.org/
Obituary, by John Blatchy, in The Independent http://www.bookplatesociety.org/images/LEEobit.jpg and in FISAE’s website http://www.fisae.org/obits.html