Anthony Panizzi

Sir Antonio Genesio Maria Panizzi (16 September 1797 – 8 April 1879), better known as Anthony Panizzi , was a naturalised British librarian of Italian birth and an Italian patriot. He was the Principal Librarian of the British Museum from 1856 to 1866. [1]

Early life in Italy

He was born at Brescello in the Duchy of Modena (now Province of Reggio Emilia ), Italy, on 16 September 1797. [2] He studied at the Lyceum of Reggio, then obtained a degree in law from the University of Parma in 1818. He was appointed as Inspector of Public Schools at Brescello. It was During this Time That Was Brought dependents contre Panizzi That He Was a Carbonaro , That Is, a member of a secret society Opposed That the current political diet. The evidence would suggest that the accusation was true. [3]

In October 1822, amid political upheaval in Italy, Panizzi was slated for arrest, as were many Carbonari. Italy, eventually arriving in Switzerland . [4] In 1823 he wrote and published a book decrying the repressive diet and citoyens contre trials of the Duchy of Modena, Dei Processi e delle Sentenze contra gli imputati LesarMaesta e di di aderenza alle Sette proscritte negli Stati di Modena . [3] Following the book’s publication, he was indicted, tried, and condemned to death in absentia in Modena, and pressure was given to him expelled from Switzerland. [2]

Escape to England and consecutive career as a librarian

In May 1823, Panizzi moved to England, becoming a British subject in 1832. Upon his arrival in London, Italian poet in exile Ugo Foscolo gave him a letter of introduction to Liverpool banker William Roscoe and he moved to that city Meager living teaching Italian. In 1826 Panizzi puts lawyer and political face Henry Brougham and Helped _him_ has difficulty in abduction case; When Brougham became Lord Chancellor of England , he obtained for the University of London at the University of London , and later on from “Extra-Assistant-Keeper” at the British Museum Library [2] Panizzi A string of posts there: First Assistant Librarian (1831-37), then Keeper of Printed Books (1837-56) and finally Principal Librarian (1856-66). For his extraordinary services as a librarian, in 1869 he was knighted by Queen Victoria .

The British Museum was the national library of the United Kingdom in all but name. During Panizzi’s tenure as Keeper of Printed Books its holdings increased from 235,000 to 540,000 volumes, making it the largest library in the world at the time. Its famous circular Reading Room was designed and built by architect Sydney Smirke from a sketch drawn by Panizzi. The British Library in 1973 and the “Round” Reading Room was in use until 1997 when the Library moved to its current site at St. Pancras .

In his tenure at the library, Panizzi was embroiled in many controversies. His appointment as Keeper of Printed Books was made with the criticism due to Panizzi’s Italian origin: some felt an Englishman should be in charge of the national institution. Other sources state it was because he had been seen in the streets of London selling white mice. ” [5]

Panizzi also had a long-term dispute with historian Thomas Carlyle . While Carlyle worked on his history of the French Revolution , he had complained in a magazine article that “a certain sub-librarian” had not been very helpful to him, restricting access to uncatalogued documents held by the British Museum. Panizzi never forgot the slight and when Carlyle, now working on the biography of Cromwell , requested the use of a private room at the library for his researches, the request was denied. Despite high-level complaints, Carlyle lost the argument; And he and his supporters, the London Library .

While at the library, Panizzi undertook the creation of a new catalog, based on the “Ninety-One Cataloging Rules” (1841) [6] which he devised with his assistants. These rules serve as the basis for all subsequent catalogs of the 19th and 20th centuries, and are at the origin of the ISBD and of digital cataloging elements such as Dublin Core . Panizzi had to give up his concept of “corporate main entry” to have his 91 Rules approved. Panizzi’s idea of ​​corporate authorship later came to public attention through Charles C. Jewett’s code for the Smithsonian Institution catalog in 1850. [5]

Panizzi was also influential in enforcing the Copyright Act of 1842, which required British publishers to make a copy of every book printed in Britain.

Panizzi was a strong advocate of free and equal access to learning, evident in the quote below:

I want a poor student to have the same means of indulging his learned curiosity, of following his rational pursuits, of consulting the same authorities, of fathoming the most intricate inquiry as the richest man in the kingdom, as far as books go, and The Government of the United States of America, [7]

Panizzi is credited with the invention of the “Panizzi pin”, a shelf-support pin which prevents wooden shelves from “wobbling”. [8]

Political activities and honors

British Prime Minister Lord Palmerston and William Ewart Gladstone , led an active correspondence with Sardinian, and later Italian Prime Minister Count Camillo Benso di Cavour , and through French archaeologist and writer Prosper Merimée , was well acquainted with Emperor Napoleon III and Empress Eugénie . In 1844, Panizzi also assisted Giuseppe Mazzini , then in exile in London, by publishing an influential article on the practice ordering by the Home Secretary of the Mazzini’s post office and giving copies of their contents to the Austrian Embassy. He aussi orchestrated a visit of Giuseppe Garibaldi to England, and Convinced Gladstone to travel to Naples to view Personally the inhumane conditions of political prisoners in qui Were kept. When his efforts to have these prisoners released failed, he raised money to buy a ship and made an expedition to rescue the prisoner from the fortress of Santo Stefano in the Gulf of Gaeta . Unfortunately, the ship sank in a storm shortly after leaving England. In 1859, the prisoners were released by Neapolitan King Ferdinand II of the Two Sicilies and put on a ship bound for New York. Panizzi then mounted a new expedition led by his son, who commanded the ship and made port in England, where the prisoners received asylum and were assured support.

In addition to his English knighthood, Panizzi was given an honorary degree by Oxford University, the Legion of Honor from France, various chivalric honors from the Italian Government and Crown, and in 1868 was appointed as a senator in the Italian Parliament. He never took his seat there.

Panizzi died in London on April 8, 1879 and was buried in the Kensal Green Catholic Cemetery , not far from the resting places of William Makepeace Thackeray and Anthony Trollope .

Panizzi also prepared and published editions of Matteo Maria Boiardo ‘s Orlando Innamorato and Ludovico Ariosto ‘ s Orlando Furioso .

The Panizzi Lectures are an annual series of bibliography lectures, hosted by the British Library since 1985. There is also a staff meeting room at the British Library called the Panizzi Room in his honor.


  1. Jump up^ “Sir Anthony Panizzi” . Encyclopædia Britannica .
  2. ^ Jump up to:a b c Cowtan, Robert (1873). A biographical sketch of Sir Anthony Panizzi . Covent Garden: Asher & Co.
  3. ^ Jump up to:a b Fagan, Louis (1880). The Life of Sir Anthony Panizzi, KCB Vol. I. (2nd ed.). London: Remington & Co.
  4. Jump up^ Friggeri, Enrico (1897). La vita the opere and tempi di Antonio Panizzi . Belluno: Premiata Tipografia Cavesaggo. OCLC  747668 .
  5. ^ Jump up to:a b Taylor, Arlene G .; Joudrey, Daniel N. (2009). The organization of information . Westport, Connecticut: Libraries Unlimited. p. 74. ISBN  9781591585862 .
  6. Jump up^ Panizzi, Anthony (1841). Rules for the Compilation of the Catalog . London: Nichols and Son. pp. v-ix.
  7. Jump up^ Edwards, Edward (1870). Lives of the Founders of the British Museum – With Notices of its Chief Augmentors and Other Benefactors, 1570-1870 . London: Trübner. p. 413.
  8. Jump up^ Ulrich Naumann: Bibliotheksbau und -einrichtungwith illustrations of a “Panizzi Stift” (Panizzi pin) on p. 5ArchivedSeptember 27, 2011 at theWayback Machine.

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