Sir Anthony Panizzi

Sir Anthony Panizzi, original name Antonio Genesio Maria Panizzi, (born Sept. 16, 1797, Brescello [Italy]--died April 8, 1879, London, Eng

Sir Anthony Panizzi

Sir Anthony Panizzi, original name Antonio Genesio Maria Panizzi, (born Sept. 16, 1797, Brescello [Italy]--died April 8, 1879, London, Eng. Italian patriot and man-of-letter who was famous for his work as a librarian at The British Museum and played an important role in the unification.

Panizzi was exiled in 1822 to avoid being arrested as a revolutionary. After teaching Italian at Liverpool in 1823, he arrived in England and became professor of Italian at University College in London (1828-1837). He was appointed assistant librarian at The British Museum in 1831. In 1856 he was made principal librarian. Panizzi, as a librarian and administrator was responsible for the reorganization of the British Museum and the renewed spirit of energy and concern about scholarship that made it one of the most important centres of culture in the world. Panizzi planned and started work on the general catalogue. He also secured strict enforcement under the 1842 Copyright Act. He also compiled a report about the library's shortcomings that resulted in an increase in grant money for book purchases in 1845. He also improved the conditions of staff by insisting that the museum be recognized as a branch within the civil service. His friendship with Thomas Grenville led to the Grenville library being left to him in 1846. However, his greatest achievement is the design and supervision of the Reading Room which was opened in May 1857 ( view illustration).

Panizzi became a British citizen in 1832. However, he continued to support the cause of Italian freedom through his friendship with Adolphe Thiers, a French Liberal stateman, and with the Italian leaders. He declined invitations from Giuseppe Garibaldi, the Count di Cavour, to return as senator, or as a member of Council of Public Instruction. Instead, he preferred to remain as an "unofficial ambassador" to London.

Panizzi's literary works includes editions of Matteo Boiardo’s Orlando immagorato, Ludovico Alriosto’s Orlando futrioso (1830-34) as well as Boiardo’s minor poems (1835). Prosper Merimee was his close friend in his later years. He was knighted in 1869 and retired in 1866.

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