Skip to main content
Senate House Library

About the collection

About Jonathan Cutbill and the Haud Nominandum Collection 

Jonathan [John Louis] Cutbill (1937-2019) was a bookseller, book collector, civil servant, and gay rights campaigner.  

With Ernest Hole and Peter Dorey, Cutbill founded the Gay’s the Word bookstall which developed into Gay’s the Word bookshop in 1979. Cutbill was one of the bookshop’s directors and it was in this role that he became a defendant in the ‘Operation Tiger’ raids and proposed trial.  

Over many decades, Cutbill collected approximately 30,000 English language books covering LGBTQ+ literature, social science, and history, alongside numerous pamphlets, newspapers, and cuttings. As the executor of Edward Carpenter’s estate, Cutbill also owned an archive of material related to Carpenter. As Andrew Lumsden noted in his entry about Jonathan Cutbill in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, the collection is the “greatest of known personal English-language LGBT+ collections”.  

Before his death in 2019, Cutbill gifted his collection to Senate House Library, where it is currently held as a special collection. Most of the books on display in the Seized Books! exhibition are from this collection, which is formally called the Haud Nominandum collection, a Latin phrase chosen by Cutbill which broadly translates as ‘that which cannot be named’.

Jonathan Cutbill in Hay-on-Wye taken by Steve Keay mid 1980s
Jonathan Cutbill in Hay-on-Wye taken by Steve Keay mid-1980s

The Haud Nominandum Collection at Senate House Library

For queries about the collection, contact the Senate House Library special collections team.

Find out more about Jonathan Cutbill and his Haud Nominandum collection

In 2020 Justin Bengry, the Director of the Centre for Queer History at Goldsmiths University of London, used the Haud Nominandum collection as the basis for a talk on queer books and histories. The full talk can be watched here: Holden Lecture 2020: Bulgarian Tendencies: Stories from the Queer Library of Jonathan Cutbill | University of London 

Seized Books! exhibition co-curator Sarah Pyke wrote a blog in response to Justin Bengry’s talk: Profit, Prosecution and Queer Publishing | University of London 

BBC News, Shropshire, reported in an online news story about Jonathan Cutbill’s collection being gifted to Senate House Library: Shrewsbury book collector gifts LGBT 'legacy' - BBC News 

If you have access to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, you can read Andrew Lumsden’s full article on Jonathan Cutbill.