George Vanderbilt's Library has been a guest favorite for more than 100 years. Vanderbilt treasured books, and collected 22,784 of them in his lifetime. Around 10,000 fill the shelves in his Library in Biltmore House. The oldest book in the collection was published in 1561! Photo credit: The Biltmore Company.
A turn-of-the-century New York journalist wrote of Vanderbilt: “He was a bookworm, a student… And his love of books come all from his own inner consciousness, for he was not graduated from any college, and his education, while not neglected, had not been carried beyond the ordinary limits of high schools, though now, I doubt not, he is one of the best read men in the country.” He also loved dogs. Here's he's pictured with Cedric, one of the family's St. Bernards. Photo credit: The Biltmore Company.
Pages from George Vanderbilt's journal, “Books I Have Read.” Vanderbilt started recording his reading progress at age 12 until his untimely death at 51, He logged more than 3,159 books. Photo credit: The Biltmore Company.
The collection ranges in subject from American and English fiction to world history, religion, philosophy, art, and architecture. It also contains many French titles – 4,326 to be exact – and Vanderbilt's journal shows that he read many of them. He was interested in France, its culture, and was fluent in the French language. Photo credit: The Biltmore Company.
A page from “L’Ornament Polychrome” shows “Early Style of Flower Management.” “L’Ornament Polychrome” was published in 1869 and was a pictorial work on the history of design. Photo credit: The Biltmore Company.
Several classic romances grace the shelves. A fan of Jane Austen, Vanderbilt notes in his journal that he read "Pride and Prejudice" in 1897, and "Emma" in 1890. Photo credit: The Biltmore Company.
About this "Romeo and Juliet": It is officially "The Tragedie of Romeo and Juliet" (The Players' Text of 1597, with the Heminges and Condell Text of 1623). This edition is dedicated to Edwin Booth, the famous Shakespearean actor and older brother of John Wilkes Booth, Abraham Lincoln’s assassinator. According to “Books I Have Read,” Vanderbilt may not have ever read "Romeo and Juliet" as it is not noted in his detailed journal. Photo credit: The Biltmore Company.
Architectural details in the Library nearly upstage Vanderbilt's impressive book collection. Here is a view of the wood and iron work on the spiral staircase. Photo credit: The Biltmore Company.
Even the curtain rods in the Library are works of art. Photo credit: The Biltmore Company.
The soaring Pellegrini Ceiling in the Library at Biltmore House. Depicted is "The Chariot of Aurora."