The Vaughan Williams Memorial Library (VWML) was founded with the opening of Cecil Sharp House in 1930. Originally called the Cecil Sharp Library, it originally housed Sharp’s collection of approximately 1,000 books, which he bequeathed the English Folk Dance Society. Its first librarian was Sharp’s daughter, Joan.
The amalgamation of English Folk Dance Society and the Folk-Song Society in the early 1930s, plus the subsequent bequests, donations and purchases since that time, saw the library grow considerably over the years, most notably with the addition of other media, including sound, audio visual, moving image, pictorial and manuscript collections of many of the most eminent folklorists and collectors of the twentieth century.
Today, VWML is a truly multi-media library and archive and achieved the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council’s designated status in 2011 in recognition of its status as England’s principal folk arts collection.
The library is now named in honour of the composer, song collector and President of the English Folk Dance and Song Society, Ralph Vaughan Williams, who died in 1958.
The library was thoroughly renovated and restored by expert conservators in Summer 2017, and is open free of charge.
English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS)
Championing folk arts: the national folk arts development organisation for England
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Cecil Sharp House
Our London-based HQ plays host to a whole range of events
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