In February 1987, partly to finance the purchase of a larger house, Kingsley Amis sold his papers (483 catalogued items) to the Huntington Library in Southern California. Amis professed to hate ‘abroad’, but he was only intermittently a cultural nationalist. When Philip Larkin, in his capacity as librarian, canvassed him in 1960 for his views on the export of manuscripts, he received the usual robust reply:
Vol. 20 No. 10 · 21 May 1998
I read with pleasure Zachary Leader’s Diary in your 16 April issue until I saw his assertion that the Huntington Library possessed the ‘finest collection of early editions of Shakespeare’s works in the world, including four first Folios’. The word ‘finest’, of course, may have many meanings but in terms of quantity the Huntington’s collection, though fine indeed, cannot compare with that of the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington DC. According to the on-line Britannica, the Folger ‘possesses an unrivalled collection of Shakespeare’s folios – 79 copies of the First Folio (1623), 58 copies of the second folio (1632) and 24 copies of the third folio (1663-64)’.