About Alexander Horsburgh Turnbull
Alexander Horsburgh Turnbull (14 September 1868 – 28 June 1918) was a New Zealand merchant, and book collector. On his death, his collection formed the nucleus of the Alexander Turnbull Collection.
Born in Wellington to Scottish merchant Walter Turnbull (1823-1897) and his wife Alexandrina Horsburg (1827-1896), Turnbull grew up in Wellington but moved to London with his family near the end of his schooling in 1881. By the time he returned permanently to New Zealand in 1892, he was already collecting books. His particular interests were New Zealand, Pacific exploration, Scottish history, English literature, John Ruskin, and, particularly, John Milton. He had a standing order with London bookseller Bernard Quaritch, which was regularly updated to include more subjects.
After his death his collection contained approximately 55,000 books, as well as manuscripts, photographs, paintings and sketches (the artefacts having already been given to the Dominion Museum). The collection is no longer housed in his purpose-built house (which is now in the care of DoC), but in the same building as the other collections held by the National Library. Turnbull's Milton collection continues to be added to, by purchase and donation. A number of significant additions were made in the 1970s. He is buried with his parents at Bolton Street Memorial Park, Wellington.