1127By Susana Torres Prieto, Professor of Humanities at IE University and IE Business School.

About two years ago, in January 2014, Isabel de Madariaga, daughter of the Spanish politician and writer Salvador de Madariaga, saw finally, at the age of 95, one of her wishes fulfilled: her private library was coming back to Spain. In her own words: “If I cannot return, I want that my books at least do”. After years of negotiations, I had the privilege of bringing part of the private library to the Spanish National Library (Biblioteca Nacional) where her books have filled in a blank space left by decades of disinterest in Russian studies in Spain, mainly for political reasons. Because Isabel de Madariaga, aside from being the daughter of one of the most notable Spanish intellectuals of the twentieth century, was also a full professor of Russian History at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES) in London.

Upon the reception of the books in Spain, the National Library considered that there were books of no interest to them, because copies of those were already among its funds. Luckily enough, our Dean of IE Humanities Center and School of International Relations, Arantza de Areilza, took interest in receiving these books, which constitute today the Fund Madariaga at our IE University Library in our Segovia Campus.

And it was very lucky, because among the slightly over 70 volumes are first editions dedicated by their authors to both father and daughter, titles by Salvador de Madariaga (Diálogos Famosos, Carlos V, De Galdós a Lorca, Españoles de mi Tiempo), and some of their translations into English; others by Leonard Schapiro (Totalitarism, Rationalism and Nationalism in Russian Nineteenth-Century Political Thought), one of the great historians of Communism and former husband of Isabel’s and, like her, Professor of Political Science at the LSE, apart from, naturally, Isabel’s greatest books (Russia in the Age of Catherine the Great, Ivan the Terrible) and an exquisite collection for the study of Russian history from the 17th century onwards. The fund, therefore, abounds in titles on political history and thought as well as on Russia.

To my mind, the greatest value, however, is that all these books belonged to two great Spanish intellectuals of the twentieth century, father and daughter, whose recognition by peers and colleagues is stamped in the warm dedications of the books now held at our University; of two Spanish intellectuals, moreover, with whom Spain, as so often happens, has been terribly unfair. Neither the wide-ranging knowledge of the father, a polymath like Salvador de Madariaga, nor the independence of thought and stern determination of the daughter – Isabel was the first woman undergraduate at the London School of Economics to study Russian – have been fully recognised in the country which forbid them to return in 1936.

Proud as she was of her surname –she never changed it when she got married– Isabel felt that Spain was the right place for her books to rest, and we, in IE, are the proud holders of some of the best examples. It is now our responsibility to transmit to our students the value and uniqueness of such little precious collection


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