“John Rylands” by John Cassidy
John Rylands

John Rylands (1801-1880), by John Cassidy (1860-1939). 1899. Marble, with a polished granite pedestal, and with Rylands' name inscribed on the plinth. The life-size figure holds a quill pen in one hand, and looks more like a scholar than a textile magnate. Although he was "the leading figure in the Lancashire cotton industry" (Wyke 70), and therefore immensely wealthy, he was also a deeply religious man, "a striking example of the innovatory entrepreneur inspired by a profound belief in the truths of Christianity, especially as expounded in the New Testament, and in their essential relevance to daily life" (Farnie).

Rylands stands in the specially constructed apse of the Reading Room of the John Rylands Library, which was built as a memorial to him and to house his priceless collection of theological books, to which other collections were added by his widow (see Archer 96). He had known great sorrow. His first wife and all their seven children had died; his second wife, with whom he had no children, had also died. But Cassidy's statue of Rylands' third wife Enriqueta, with whom he had adopted two children, and under whose aegis the library was built, stands at the other end of the Reading Room.

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Archer, John H. G. "John Rylands Library," In Manchester,” by Clare Hartwell. Pevsner Architectural Guides. London: Penguin, 2001. 96-101. Print.

Farnie, D. A. "Rylands, John (1801-1888)." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Online ed. Web. 4 August 2012.

Wyke, Terry, with Harry Cocks. Sculpture of Greater Manchester. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2004. Print.

Last modified 4 August 2012