Enriqueta Augustina Rylands
Enriqueta Augustina Rylands (1843-1908), a philanthropist, was the third wife of the wealthy cotton manufacturer, John Rylands. After his death, she spent 20 years and around two million pounds of his fortune building the John Rylands Library in his memory. She loved architecture, art and books. The Library was designed at her request by the architect, Basil Champney (1842-1935). It rivalled the university libraries of Oxford and Cambridge. When it was inaugurated on 6 October 1899, the anniversary of her marriage, the Manchester Corporation gave her the Freedom of the City. She was the first woman to receive this honour. Mrs Rylands commissioned a Seravezza marble statue of her husband for the Reading Room from the sculptor, John Cassidy in 1894, which was installed when the Library opened. Supporters of the Library commissioned her statue from the same sculptor, also in Seravezza marble, as a pair to her husband’s. This stands at the other end of the Library facing him and was unveiled on 9 December 1907, shortly before her death.
Location: Reading Room, John Rylands Library, Manchester.