Born on Christmas Day 1913, Alan Noel Latimer ‘Tim’ Munby studied at King’s College (1932–35) before working in the antiquarian book trade at Quaritch and Sotheby’s. Known for his generosity and hospitality, Munby made a great impression on all he met. His career was interrupted by the war and he was soon captured and held as a prisoner of war until 1945.
Munby returned to King’s in 1947 as Librarian and published widely on many aspects of the history of books and collecting, his first major work being the five-volume Phillipps Studies. Commissioned in 1946 by the booksellers Lionel & Philip Robinson it appeared between 1951 and 1960 and remains a magisterial study of nineteenth-century bibliophily. At King’s he catalogued the library of John Maynard Keynes and went on to write several books covering a wide range of subjects, including The cult of the autograph letter in England (1962), Connoisseurship and medieval miniatures (1970) and a host of shorter essays on subjects as diverse as King’s College library in the fifteenth century and his own book-collecting in Cambridge in the 1930s.
His twelve-volume series of Sale catalogues of libraries of eminent persons (1971–75) reproduced copies of the sale catalogues of well-known individuals, annotated with prices and buyers’ names, and his posthumously published union list of British book sale catalogues, 1676–1800 (compiled with Lenore Coral) could be considered the culmination of a lifetime’s research.
He was Lyell Reader in Bibliography at Oxford in 1962–63, Sandars Reader in Bibliography at Cambridge in 1969–70 and President of the Bibliographical Society in 1974.
Image: Alan Noel Latimer ‘Tim’ Munby, taken by A C Barrington Brown (Coll Photo 329, King’s College Library, Cambridge).