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Guide to the Archives Centre

Find a range of great resources to help you with research, to find the correct service for your project.

Special collections

We hold unique collections of great significance to researchers of fashion, art and design, theatre and literature.

Art and Design collection

Our Art and Design collection has been designated as being of national importance.

Theatre materials

We offer an extensive collection of theatre materials with books, playbills, programmes and prints documenting the history of London's vibrant theatre scene, and in particular the development of West End theatre.

The Preston Blake collection

The Preston Blake collection is a large collection of books, pamphlets and art works relating to the influential poet, painter and printmaker William Blake.

Donated to Westminster in 1967, the collection represents 50 years of assiduous acquisition of books by and about the great poet, painter and mystic, who was born in Soho and spent most of his life in Westminster.

The collection consists of over 700 volumes, many of which are rare and sought-after, as well as periodicals, catalogues and transparencies.

Jewels of the collection include:

  • autographed letters written by Blake to one of his patrons
  • Blake’s own printed copy of his first book of poems ‘Poetical Sketches’ including alterations in Blake’s own hand
  • The ‘Book of Job’ containing proof copies of Blake's 22 engraved illustrations
  • artist’s proofs of the 7 large illustrations of Dante

Many of the books in the Preston Blake collection are catalogued in the Westminster library catalogue. A printed catalogue of the collection is available in the Archives' searchroom.

Published: 31 December 2020

Last updated: 31 December 2020