The Library of William Congreve by William Congreve When William Congreve died in 1729 he left a collection of books which his old friend and publisher, Jacob Tonson, described (in a letter preserved at the Bodleian) as "genteel & well chosen." Tonson thought so well of the collection that he urged his nephew, then his agent in London, to purchase Congreve's books. But Congreve had willed them to Henrietta, the young Duchess of Marlborough, who was much concerned with keeping intact (as she wrote in her will) "all Mr. Congreaves Personal Estate that he left me" in order to pass it along to her youngest daughter Mary. This daughter, said by gossip to have been Congreve's daughter also, married the fourth Duke of Leeds in 1740, and thus Congreve's books eventually found their way to Hornby Castle, chief seat of the Leeds family in Yorkshire. There apparently most of Congreve's books remained until about 1930, when the eleventh Duke of Leeds sold his English estates and authorized Sotheby's to auction off "a Selected portion of the Valuable Library at Hornby Castle." Among the 713 items advertised for sale on June 2, 3, and 4, 1930, were ten books containing the signature of William Congreve. These ten, along with a few others that have been discovered here and there with Congreve's name on the title page, and nine books published by subscription with Congreve's name in the printed list of subscribers, made a total of some thirty-odd books known to have been in Congreve's library. These, we may presume, were but a small part of the Congreve books which had been incorporated with the Leeds family library in 1740. We are delighted to publish this classic book as part of our extensive Classic Library collection. Many of the books in our collection have been out of print for decades, and therefore have not been accessible to the general public. The aim of our publishing program is to facilitate rapid access to this vast reservoir of literature, and our view is that this is a significant literary work, which deserves to be brought back into print after many decades. The contents of the vast majority of titles in the Classic Library have been scanned from the original works. To ensure a high quality product, each title has been meticulously hand curated by our staff. Our philosophy has been guided by a desire to provide the reader with a book that is as close as possible to ownership of the original work. We hope that you will enjoy this wonderful classic work, and that for you it becomes an enriching experience.