Library of Unwritten Books is a collection of possible books. Short interviews are recorded with people about a book they dream of writing or making. Limited edition mini books are published from transcripts of the interviews, which are made available to readers at exhibitions and special events. Touring book-boxes also display the books at everyday venues such as cafés, pubs, libraries and launderettes.

The concept was inspired by a fictional book repository featured in The Abortion: An Historical Romance 1966 by cult American writer, Richard Brautigan. The novella’s main protagonist is a librarian who catalogues any book deposited in his care. All authors submitting unique titles, such as Growing Flowers by Candlelight in Hotel Rooms and The Culinary Dostoevski, are accepted and shelved. After Brautigan’s suicide, fans started real libraries of unpublished books.

Inspired by the non-selective ethos of the Brautigan library, Caroline Jupp and Sam Brown founded Library of Unwritten Books in 2002. The books are collected through random encounters in parks, city streets and public places, and by invitations to visit literature festivals, public libraries and community centres. People are prompted to spontaneously record their unrealised ideas, fictional tales, and personal histories. There is no selection procedure and all contributors to the library receive a free copy of their own unwritten book.

The collection is evidence of the common desire to write a book and is an ongoing survey of this literary phenomenon. The library catalogue will eventually be permanently housed at the Mass-Observation Archive at University of Sussex.

Past project funders & sponsors:

Arts Council of England, Aspex Gallery, Awards for All, Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Bolton at Home, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Catalyst Arts Belfast, Clapham Park Project, The Elephant Trust, European Regional Development Fund, Hyde Plus, Hyde Southbank Homes, Lambeth Borough Council, The New Art Gallery Walsall, Phoenix Arts Association, Portsmouth Neighbourhood Renewal Unit, The Public, Riverside Community Development Trust, Sandwell Libraries, GF Smith, Spread the Word Literature Development Agency, Stockwell Partnership, V&A Museum, Vital Arts, Walsall Council, Wandsworth Borough Council.

Library of Unwritten Books was originally commissioned by Pump House Gallery, London