In the Post War years, DW continued his passion for collecting.
DW’s principal passion was for book collecting, and he bought over 4,000 books in his lifetime.
The subject matter was varied – it included history ancient and modern, comparative religion, erotica, and a stunning collection of modern fiction – much of it inscribed for him by the authors, and including a signed first edition of James Joyce’s Ulysses. Many of these works – widely dispersed upon his death – are now worth very considerable amounts of money.
A Special Exhibition in the Museum will hopefully explore this aspect of DW’s life at greater length later.
DW’s other collecting passions included stamps - where he amassed a collection of over 40,000 stamps, some in albums and some displayed under glass - porcelain (where a long line of Napoleonic figures topped the bookshelf in his Library), antique furniture and antique gold coins.
One of his grandchildren recalled how on a visit she was shown an Indian chest in the front hall, out of which, if it was opened incorrectly, would shoot sharp knives; and how opening a cupboard door she found an Egyptian mummy inside.
DW’s vast wine cellars were also kept well stocked with some of the choicest vintages, which he would enjoy with his friends.
References : Phil Baker Chapter 42
‘Officer and Temporary Gentleman’ Chapter 12.
‘Living Portrait’ (DW’s private film for his family; to view it on this website, click here)
Various drafts of the script of Living Portrait can be found in Leeds University's Special Collections archives.
Provenance : All illustrations taken from ‘Living Portrait’