The collection

Approximately 1,500 books and one thousand pamphlets, mostly nineteenth-century, on theology, philosophy, economics, education, science and philology. Lady Welby developed  “significs”, now understood as a forerunner of semiology, and the collection is significant for Lady Welby-Gregory’s extensive annotations.


The collector

The Hon. Victoria A.M.L. Stuart-Wortley, afterwards Lady Welby-Gregory (1837-1912; see ODNB and William Andrew Myers, ‘Victoria, Lady Welby (1837-1912)’ in: A History of Women Philosophers, vol. 4, ed. Mary Ellen Waithe (Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic, 1995), pp. 1-24)



Given by Lady Welby’s son, Sir Charles Welby-Gregory, in 1912 and transferred to the Library in 1913.



The collection is dispersed among the Library’s holdings. A recent project to improve access to the collection has traced the current location of titles from the original catalogue of the collection’s books and periodicals.  A searchable handlist (PDF) is available.

Books with a classmark beginning [L.W.L.] are held off-site and material requires 48 hours (excluding weekends) to be fetched.


Select publications

  • Baker, P.M., ‘The Lady Welby Library at the University of London’, in: Essays on Significs: Papers Presented on the Occasion of the 150th Anniversary of the Birth of Victoria Lady Welby, 1837-1912 , ed. H. Walter Schmitz, Foundation of Semiotics, 23 (Amsterdam: Benjamins, 1990), pp. 279-287.