About this project

Unsilencing the Library is an installation at Compton Verney Art Gallery and Park, supported by this website. If you would like to know more, or offer feedback, please email sophie.ratcliffe@ell.ox.ac.uk, or you can fill in the form below:


The project was conceived by Dr Sophie Ratcliffe, Associate Professor in English at The University of Oxford, and Fellow and Tutor at Lady Margaret Hall and Professor Steven Parissien, Director of Compton Verney Art Gallery and Museum. It was funded by a Knowledge Exchange Fellowship from Oxford University’s Research Centre in the Humanities (TORCH)


Dr Ceri Hunter researched the history of the imitation books, and conducted the archival research to enable Compton Verney to replace the missing book panels. She was assisted by Dr Eleanor Lybeck, and art historian Pip Shergold.

Dr Eleanor Lybeck worked closely with the guest curators, liaising in particular with the Prison Reading Groups

The text for the historical aspects of the website was research and written primarily by Eleanor Lybeck, Ceri Hunter, Sophie Ratcliffe, and Steven Parissien.

They were supported by the team at Compton Verney. Special thanks to Annelise Hone, Kiran Badyal and Jenni Venn.


Huge thanks – for their generosity and their time – to our guest curators for this year. These are:

the members of the Prison Reading Groups, and the charity Prison Reading Groups itself, especially its co-founder Dr Sarah Turvey, and the Prison librarians who supported this project.




Appreciation to The University of Oxford, The Country Houses Foundation, and other anonymous donors, for their funding.

Huge thanks to Karen Haines-Lea and all at Renaissance Creative, for website and exhibition design.

Rapture and Wright designed a bespoke fabric for the room as a tribute to Georgiana Verney.

Gillian and Peter Ashley-Smith kindly shared their research about Compton Verney with us.

Warwickshire bookbinder John Richards bound the new books with immense care and skill. Our thanks also to Victoria Allen, textile conservator, for creating the new spandrels; Phillip Slater, for the door restoration; Fran Cundy at Liscious who provided the chair and upholstery; Stewart Meese, for conserving the paintings in the room. Roger Rowberry, for repairing the bookshelves and Harrison Antique Furniture for supplying the furniture.

Dr Belinda Jack offered her expertise on women and reading in the nineteenth century, and we were also advised by Kathy Keown, Professor Ros Ballaster and Professor Abigail Williams at the University of Oxford.

Oxford University Press,  Emma Watson, and Lady Margaret Hall Library kindly donated books for the room.