Among the treasures in the British Library, one of the most unexpected is a collection of autographed manuscript scores that includes Mozart’s thematic catalogue of his own works. Donated in 1986, these formed part of the incredible hoard accumulated by Stefan Zweig throughout his life. The collecting habit began early. By the age of fifteen, Zweig, the indulged second son of a wealthy family of Viennese industrialists, had decided to become a writer. Praised by Hermann Hesse for his first collection of stories, Zweig decided to broaden his literary connections by inviting the celebrated writers of the day to correspond with him. His success rate increased after he took the kindly advice of one great author and began enclosing return postage; several agreed, not only to sign letters, but to sell their manuscripts to an enterprising youth who, by the age of twenty, was leading the life of a sixty-year-old, nestled among a gathering of framed photos, poems and autographs that included – his greatest jewel – a handwritten Goethe poem.

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