How to Burn the Cotton Library

Collect every medieval manuscript you can get your hands on, the best ones, the really beautiful and important ones. Make a who’s who of the famed and the fabulous and gather them all in, from all over the place, get the bibles of every discipline and the bible too: science, literature, law, medicine, government. Religion. Assemble the works of our ancestors and make them your children. Be the mother of thousands. Be all their daddies.


Bequeath your collection, vast and priceless, to the state. Forget that the state is not yet accustomed to protecting such treasures, this is symbolism. Make a point and give it all to the nation and not to the monarch, the national body will be your library’s parent and or legal guardian now.

Store the manuscripts in a room right above a fireplace. Directly above. Prefer a temperamental fireplace with a wooden mantle.

Store firewood along the mantle, standing on end. Put the longer pieces there, stand them right up, reaching for the ceiling. Point them at it.

Decorate the room with a fine wooden wainscoting, put it all around the perimeter.

Maybe hang some stuff to dry from the mantle. Dry stuff.

Light a massive, crackling, spitting, fire. Get it good and hot and pile the wood on, wood with lots of sap. It’s late and cold so really build it up, you want this fire to last as long into the night as it can.

Go to bed.