The Gennadius Library in Athens has a rich trove of holdings of Maltese interest, ranging from 16th century prints to 19th century original watercolours and photos of disappearing Malta, a veritable feast for the eyes of the Melitensia afficionado.
This handsome volume is testament to the breadth of the materials collected by the bibliophile Joannes Gennadius (1844-1932), which are now part of the Gennadius Library of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. The Library houses a richly diverse collection of books and rare bindings, archives, manuscripts, and works of art illuminating Greek culture and civilization from antiquity to modern times.
A Greek Ambassador to Great Britain in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Joannes Gennadius formed a unique collection that focused on the history of Hellenism and on the appeal that Greece had on early modern travellers. The Mediterranean played a central part in his collecting, and Joannes had a particlarly soft spot for Malta where he studied as a young boy at the English Protestant College, a school chosen by many of the leading families of Athens for their sons’ education.
While in Malta, Joannes perfected his English to such an extent that he carried off more school prizes than any of the English-speaking students. He must have retained great memories of his time there. Not only did he collect paintings, engravings, and photographs that reminded him of his favourite landscapes on the islands of Malta and Gozo, but his library contained many Greek volumes printed at the missionary presses of Malta. In fact, the Gennadius Library actively pursues the acquisition of rare imprints of the Maltese nineteenth-century printing houses to complement the original holdings of the collection.