The Robert Lenkiewicz Library

After Robert’s untimely death in 2002, The Robert Lenkiewicz Library was housed in St Saviour’s, a de-consecrated nineteenth century church which sits atop Lambhay Hill, overlooking the picturesque water-frontage of Plymouth’s historic Barbican. In 2019, the Foundation is planning to return the library to Lenkiewicz's former premises at 25 The Parade, allowing St Saviours to undergo essential refurbishment. The Art, Art Biography and Art History collection (4,000 books) is now at Plymouth College of Art in a special reference room. Anyone can visit the library with the permission of the college librarians.

At its height, in the late 1990s, Lenkiewicz’s private library numbered some twenty five thousand volumes, covering a range of subjects, from philosophy and theology, to psychology and sociology, and from art history and biography to aesthetics, literary criticism and historiography. These sat alongside a few unique collections devoted to witchcraft and the occult, sex and erotica, gerontology and death, and Nazism and Fascism. Some of the smaller holdings were kept in his studio on the Barbican Parade, whilst the bulk was shelved at St Saviour’s, in a splendidly opulent re-creation of the Bodleian’s Duke Humfrey library at Oxford University. It was here that he amassed a significant collection of antiquarian books and manuscripts, together with some authenticated notes and letters written by such distinguished philosophers as Kant, Leibniz and Locke. Sadly, virtually all of the antiquarian books, and most of these important curiosities and literary relics were sold or auctioned off in order to meet outstanding debts and sundry calls on the estate. 

The Lenkiewicz Foundation intends to try to fulfil, at least partly, Robert Lenkiewicz’s vision of creating a sustainable, educational legacy by providing access to the library to students, scholars and interested parties, and by holding occasional lectures and seminars on those themes central to his life and work. Although much reduced, the library still retains its academic integrity in the disciplines of art history and philosophy, and remains a testament to a restless, creative and curious mind which constantly grappled with the deep questions of human existence: the perennial problems posed by morality, and the quirky nature of knowledge.



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