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ABOUT THE LIBRARY

HISTORY

Prince George Galitzine

46 Fontanka

The Galitzine Family

The Mecklenburg-Strelitz Family

TRUST

CHRONICLE

CATALOGUE

COMING EVENTS

ADDRESS

 

The Prince George Galitzine Memorial Library was founded in October 1994 by his widow, Jean Galitzine and their daughter, Katya.  It has been entirely funded through The Galitzine - St Petersburg Trust a London based charity.  The Library is located in St Petersburg in The Carlow House, the home of Prince George Galitzine's mother at 46 Fontanka Embankment, now the building houses the Mayakovsky Library's Foreign Language department.   Prince Galitzine was a direct descendant of two distinguished Russian families: Galitzine and the Dukes of Mecklenburg-Strelitz.

During his life, Prince George Galitzine played an integral part in creating cultural bonds between the West and Russia.  He devoted many years to the study of Russian culture and Russia's historical heritage.  From the 1970's he began leading cultural tours to the USSR.  His background and experience made him an expert in many of the historical, cultural and artistic aspects of Russian life.  As a lecturer George Galitzine addressed distinguished audiences at many famous British museums and scientific societies.  In 1991, his book on Russian architecture, "Imperial Splendour", was published by Viking in London and translated into 5 languages.

Prince George Galitzine's death in March 1992, was a great loss for many people.  In the words of James Billington, the Director of the Library of Congress, “we all owe a debt to George Galitzine for keeping the cultural doors open to Russia – he paved the way for us”.  After Prince Galitzine’s death, his widow, Jean and daughter, Katya decided to honour his memory by setting up a charitable fund in his name, this eventually led to the idea to create a library the theme of which would be Rossica of the 20th century, (books about Russia published abroad in Russian and in English).  This theme was determined not only by the late Prince’s personal interest, but also by a desire to make available to the people of St Petersburg, books which until very recently had not been accessible in Russia because of political reasons and to fill the gap in people's knowledge of Russian history that was lost during Soviet years.  The goal of the Library, as conceived by its founders, is "to educate, enlighten and inspire".

The idea of creating a charitable library received an enthusiastic response from many British institutions, as well as scholars, politicians, authors and statesmen.  Among the donations made were books personally given to the Library by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, His Royal Highness Prince Charles and former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.  Well-known publishers such as, Encyclopaedia Britannica, Harper Collins, Random House, Macmillan, Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, Everyman and many others donated books; as well as authors such as Isaiah Berlin, Professor Anthony Cross, Orlando Figes and John Julius Norwich. Sir John Lawrence, a Press-attache in Moscow from 1943-45 donated a large number of books about Russia.  Maria Rosanova (Syntaxis, Paris) and Igor Efimov (Hermitage, New York) presented books printed by their publishing houses, and the well known literary critic Professor Efim Etkind enriched the collection with his publications and a part of his private library.  Many of the books bear the signatures of their donors and authors, and each book carries the ex-libris of the Library, based on the coats of arms of both of Prince George Galitzine’s ancestral families, the Dukes of Mecklenburg-Strelitz and the Galitzine family.

A number of British companies provide technical support to the Library. Security equipment is supplied by Securicor, and office equipment is supplied by XEROX, the London department of which also helps a lot by the shipping of books from London to St Petersburg and its St Petersburg office provide free service of the Xerox equipment. The Library also receives support from the Russian companies: ISTCom (security system), SOFI (customhouse service), East-European Finance Corporation,  EXPI company (web-site support),  and, of course, from The Mayakovsky Central City Public Library, which provided it with a room at The Carlow House.

The Galitzine Library is one of the Centres of the city’s cultural life.  The Library regularly holds lectures and meetings with Russian scholars, foreign researchers of Russian history and Russian emigres, and presentations of recently published Russian books on pre-revolutionary Russian history.  The Library's cultural events are open to everyone and are free of charge.  The librarians know the collection of 3,000 or so books like their own personal library and are hence able to assist readers with their research.  Visitors to the Library can visit the permanent exhibition of family photographs and documents tracing the generations back to Catherine the Great which includes unique material from the last owners of the house.  There is also a very popular monthly excursion of the Carlow House and on important anniversaries The Galitzine Library will host historical conferences dedicated to relevant themes connected to the Galitzine Princes and the Dukes of Mecklenburg-Strelitz.

THE GALITZINE-ST PETERSBURG TRUST WOULD LIKE TO THANK EVERYONE WHO HAS HELPED CREATE THIS LIBRARY FOR THEIR SUPPORT AND GENEROSITY, especially the following:

  •  The Marquess of Cholmondeley, who kindly donated two precious volumes of "The Houghton Hall Gallery" (London, 1788);
  • Sir John Lawrence - an expert on Russia, a military Press-attache in Moscow in 1943-45, who presented about 150 volumes;
  • Sir Frank Roberts - a British Ambassador to the USSR in 1960-62, who left 200 books from his private collection to the Galitzine Library;
  • Kyril Zinovieff (Fitzlyon), a Russian emigre, translator, editor, literary critic, who donated more than 100 editions from his private library,

and many more friends and benefactors.