Sir Charles Hercules Read (Biographical details)

Sir Charles Hercules Read (curator; British; Male; July 1857 - 11 February 1929)

Also known as

Read, Charles Hercules; Read, C H


In 1874, at the age of seventeen, Read was employed privately by Sir A. W. Franks as a clerk, working with the Christy Collection. He had previously worked as a secretary to R. Smith at the South Kensington Museum. Read joined the British Museum as an assistant in the Department of Antiquities in 1880. In 1896, on Franks' retirement, Read became Keeper of the Department of British and Mediaeval Antiquities and Ethnography. Like the Principal Librarian, Maunde Thompson, he saw the museum as a centrepiece of the British Empire, and greatly extended the collections and originated a series of guides and scholarly catalogues, to which he himself contributed. He retired in 1921. He was President of the Society of Antiquaries (hence his knighthood) and a member of the Burlington Fine Arts Club. He died on 11 February 1929 in Rapallo, Italy. He was succeeded as Keeper of his former department by the Byzantinist, O M Dalton (q.v.). Portraits exist in BM Central Archives and the National Portrait Gallery.


Obituary by Campbell Dodgson in 'The Times', 13 February 1929.
'Who Was Who 1929-40'. Harrison-Hall, 2001, p. 593; Davids and Jellinek, 2011, p. 370; Pierson 2007, p. 90.
Campbell Dodgson's personal press-cutting book is in the Department of Prints & Drawings.