Alan Noel Latimer Munby

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Alan Noel Latimer Munby (25 December 1913 – 26 December 1974) was an English author, writer and librarian.

Early life[edit]

Born in Hampstead, Munby was the only son of the architect Alan E. Munby and his wife Ethel Greenhill.[1] He was educated at Clifton College[2] and King's College, Cambridge.[1] He acquired the nickname "Tim" at some point.


Munby worked in the antiquarian book trade with Bernard Quaritch Ltd. (1935–1937) and Sotheby & Company (1937–1939, 1945–1947). During the Second World War, he was commissioned into the British Army but for several years was a prisoner of war. In 1947, he became Librarian of King's College, Cambridge and in 1948 was elected as a fellow; he was J.P.R. Lyell Reader in Bibliography at the University of Oxford (1962–1963) and Sandars Reader in Bibliography, University of Cambridge (1969–1970).[3] He was elected President of the Bibliographical Society in 1974 and died during his term of office.[4]

Munby is best known for his five-volume study of the eccentric nineteenth-century book collector Sir Thomas Phillipps, and for his slim volume of ghost stories, The Alabaster Hand, which includes three tales written in Oflag VII-B, a German prisoner-of-war camp near Eichstätt, Bavaria. These stories – "The Topley Place Sale", "The Four Poster" and "The White Sack" – featured in a prison-camp magazine, Touchstone, edited by Elliott Viney, which was produced on a printing press owned by the Bishop of Eichstätt, Michael Rackl.[citation needed]


Boucher and McComas praised the stories in The Alabaster Hand as "quietly terrifying modernizations of the M.R. James tradition".[5]

Personal life[edit]

Munby's first marriage, soon after the arrival of war in 1939, was to Joan Margaret Edelsten. When he was able to return to England in 1945, he was shocked to learn that she had just died. He soon married secondly Sheila Crowther-Smith, a long-standing family friend, and they had a son, Giles Munby.[1][6]



  • (ed.) Letters to Leigh Hunt from his son Vincent (Cloanthus Press, 1934)
  • (with Desmond Flower) English Poetical Autographs (Cassell, 1938)
  • "Some Caricatures of Book-Collectors – An Essay" (printed for private circulation by William H. Robinson Ltd, Christmas 1948)
  • The Alabaster Hand and other Ghost Stories (Dobson, 1949)
  • Phillips Studies, 5 vols. (Cambridge University Press, 1951–1960)
  • The Cult of the Autograph Letter in England (London: Athlone Press, 1962)
  • Connoisseurs and Medieval Miniatures 1750–1850 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1972)
  • Essays and Papers (ed. Nicolas Barker) (Scolar Press, 1977) ISBN 0-85967-349-9

Short stories[edit]

  • "The Four-Poster". Touchstone, December 1944. Collected in The Alabaster Hand (1949).
  • "The White Sack". Touchstone, January 1945. Collected in The Alabaster Hand (1949).
  • "The Topley Place Sale". Touchstone, March 1945. Collected in The Alabaster Hand (1949).
  • "The Inscription". Chambers's Journal, date unknown. Collected in The Alabaster Hand (1949).
  • "The Devil’s Autograph". Cambridge Review, date unknown. Collected in The Alabaster Hand (1949).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Patrick Wilkinson, Alan Noel Latimer Munby T.D., Litt.D. 1913–1974: A Memoir composed by direction of the Council of King's College, Cambridge (King's College, Cambridge, 1975), p. 2
  2. ^ "Clifton College Register" Muirhead, J. A. O. p. 439: Bristol; J. W. Arrowsmith for Old Cliftonian Society; April, 1948
  3. ^ "Finding Aid for the A.N.L. Munby Papers, ca. 1940-1965".
  4. ^ "The Bibliographical Society -- Past Presidents". Archived from the original on 4 August 2009. Retrieved 17 August 2012.
  5. ^ "Recommended Reading," F&SF, April 1951, p. 113
  6. ^ The Author's and Writer's Who's Who (4th ed, 1960)

External links[edit]