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Liam Sims

Languages and Literature, University of Leicester

Thesis title:

Antiquarianism, science and networks of knowledge: The archives of the Spalding Gentlemen's Society, 1710-1760

The Spalding Gentlemen’s Society, founded in 1710 by the Lincolnshire lawyer Maurice Johnson (1688-1755) and still in existence today, was a centre of scholarly and antiquarian research in the first half of the eighteenth century. Members discussed scientific discoveries, curious objects brought to meetings and generally tried to make sense of the world around them, leaving behind a rich archive. My research seeks to consider Johnson’s own role in his Society, the nature of its very broad intellectual interests, connections forged with other individuals and societies, and the role played by books and objects in the creation of networks of knowledge. Of especial interest are the sociable origins of the society, in Spalding’s coffee houses and inns, and the role of gender in this seemingly entirely masculine society.

Research Area

  • Languages and Literature


"‘Your very obliging correspondence’: the Royal Society and the provincial Republic of Letters in Georgian Lincolnshire" in Notes and Records: the Royal Society Journal of the History of Science (forthcoming)

"'Remarks on books profound': the library of Jane Dalton" in Transactions of the Cambridge Bibliographical Society XVI/1 (2016)

"'Simple and exquisite tastes': the literary world of A. T. Bartholomew" in The Book Collector (Autumn 2016)

"'Scandalous and libellous books': the Arc Collection at Cambridge University Library" in Transactions of the Cambridge Bibliographical Society XV/4 (2015)

Plus a number of reviews in publications including the Times Literary Supplement, The Book Collector, The Antiquaries' Journal and The Library.


'"Promoters of universal learning": eighteenth-century collaboration & correspondence in the Spalding Gentlemen's Society', to be given at the SHARP Amsterdam conference on 'the power of the written word' in June 2020 (postponed to summer 2022).

'"For the encouragement of learning": collaborative antiquarianism & the Spalding Gentlemen's Society', given at the Society of Antiquaries' inaugural Young Researchers' conference, 26 October 2019

Other Research Interests

Outside of my part-time PhD life I work at Cambridge University Library where I have been a Rare Books Specialist since 2016. Before that I worked in other roles in the Rare Books Department, and with special collections in a number of Cambridge college libraries. I am especially interested in the material culture of books (their ownership, bindings and so on).


Fellow: Society of Antiquaries of London

Council Member: Bibliographical Society

Vice-Chair: Historic Libraries Forum

Editor: Transactions of the Cambridge Bibliographical Society