In the 19th century, one Dr. Ferriar wrote a poem for his friend Richard Heber, a very distinguished book collector of his day, and in doing so, entered the words “bibliomania” and “bibliophile” into the popular lexicon. He defines the idea using following passage:
What wild desires, what restless torments seize
The hapless man who feels the book-disease.
If niggard Fortune cramp his generous mind,
And Prudence quench the spark by Heaven assign’d!
With wistful glance his aching eyes behold
The Princeps-copy, clad in blue and gold,
Where the tall Book-case, with partition thin
Displays, yet guards, the tempting charms within.
Not thus the few, by happier fortune grac’d
And blest, like you, with talents, wealth, and taste,
Who gather nobly, with judicious hand,
The Muse’s treasures from each letter’d strand.
For you the Monk illum’d his pictur’d page,
For you the press defies the Spoils of age,
Faustus for you infernal tortures bore,
Fore you Erasmus starv’d on Adria’s shores.
The folio-Aldus loads your happy shelves,
And dapper Elzevirs, like fairy elves,
Show their light forms amidst the well-gilt Twelves:
In slender type the Giolitos shine,
And bold Bodoni stamps his Roman line.
For you the Louvre opes its regal doors,
And either Didot lends his brilliant stores:
With fautless types, and costly scriptures bright,
Ibarra’s Quixote charms your ravish’d sight.