This biography of John Alexander Symington, bibliographer, curator, librarian and bookseller draws heavily on archival sources to create a lively picture of the backstage workings of the British Establishment between the World War I and World War II. Originally a civil servant, Symington created the Brotherton Collection of rare books and manuscripts in his spare time, as librarian to the industrialist Lord Brotherton. After an acrimonious five-year dispute between Brotherton's heirs and Leeds University, he was appointed Keeper of the Collection at the University, only to be dismissed after a corruption scandal in 1938. He was similarly forced to resign his curatorship of the Bronte Parsonage Museum at Haworth, but went on to edit with T.J. Wise the" Shakespeare Head Bronte". In addition, Symington was chairman of a bookselling company. Symington's life is part of the larger story of the decline of the bookmen. The essential amateur in an increasingly professionalized and academic-dominated world, his tragedy lay in his failure to grasp that the day of the self-taught bookman was past.