Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Hall, Spencer (1806-1875)

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HALL, SPENCER (1806–1875), librarian of the Athenæum Club, was born in Ireland in 1806, and was articled to John Booth, bookseller, of Duke Street, Portman Square, London. He lived a short time in Germany and was afterwards with Messrs. Hodges & Smith of Dublin. He was appointed librarian of the Athenæum Club in 1833, on the recommendation of his relative Magrath, who succeeded Faraday as the first secretary of the club. The members had been only three years in possession of their present house in Pall Mall, so that Hall was connected with the early organisation of the library. He issued a pamphlet on the classification of the library in 1858, followed three years later by a letter to John Murray suggesting an edition of Shakespeare with literary criticisms. His other publications were mainly of an antiquarian character. He was elected a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, 13 May 1858. Under his management the library of the Athenæum Club gradually became one of the choicest collections of books of reference in London. He retired after forty-two years' service, owing to failing health, in May 1875, when he was elected an honorary member of the club and voted a pension. He died 21 Aug. 1875 at Tunbridge Wells, in his seventieth year. His knowledge of books and general literature was very great, and he was always ready with help and advice. His own library was sold by Messrs. Sotheby on 26 June 1876. William Hall, of Messrs. Chapman & Hall, was his brother.

He contributed to the ‘Archæological Journal,’ to the ‘Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries,’ as well as to the ‘Art Journal’ and other serials. He published:

  1. ‘Suggestions for the Classification of the Library, now collecting at the Athenæum,’ London, 1838, 8vo (for private circulation).
  2. ‘Letter to John Murray upon an Æsthetic Edition of the Works of Shakespeare,’ London, 1841, 8vo.
  3. ‘Echyngham of Echyngham,’ London, 1850, 8vo.
  4. ‘Notices of Sepulchral Memorials at Etchingham, Sussex, and of the Church at that Place,’ London, 1851, 8vo.
  5. ‘Documents from Simancas relating to the Reign of Elizabeth (1558–68); translated from the Spanish of Don Tomás Gonzalez, and edited with Notes and an Introduction,’ Lond., 1865, 8vo.
  6. ‘Francesca da Rimini’ [London, privately printed, 1874], 8vo (translated from the 'Inferno' of Dante, canto v.)

[Personal knowledge; see also the Athenæum, 11 Sept 1875, p. 338; Proceedings Soc. Antiquaries, 24 April 1876, p. 11; Transactions of the Conference of Librarians, 1877, London, 1878, pp. 231-2.]

H. R. T.