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Founded in 1841 by Victorian writer and historian Thomas Carlyle, the library boasts a distinguished list of members and patrons that includes Thackeray, Dickens, Tennyson, Kipling, Eliots George and TS and current president Tom Stoppard. The collections cover a broad spectrum of subjects, with a particular focus on humanities, and browsing the million volumes on 15 miles of open-access shelves can unearth such idiosyncratic sections as imaginary history, foreign impressions of England, old children’s stories, dreams and duelling. The Rolls Royce of libraries has a correspondingly exclusive membership fee: £375 a year. The British Library, by comparison, is free, but you cannot borrow books, whereas TLL will lend you volumes ‘for as long as you need them, or until requested by another member.’ If the annual membership isn’t within your means, temporary reference passes are available for £10 per day or £50 for a week. To help you discover whether either could be useful to you, the institution runs free tours of the premises and collections on Monday evenings.