The Brompton’s Book of Violin and Bow Makers, by Jon Dilworth, is a biographical dictionary of violin (and viola, viola, ‘cello and bass) makers as well as bow makers in Europe and the United States. Jon Dilworth, violin maker and connoisseur, spent many years collecting this information in part through his association with Amati Instruments Limited, in the form of note cards, photographs, and digital files. The work builds upon the corpus of knowledge of lutherie (the art and craft of making fine stringed instruments) established by earlier seminal works such as Henley’s Universal Dictionary of Violin and Bow Makers, Vannes’ Dictionnaire universel des luthiers, and Lütgendorff’s Die Geigen und Lautenmacher vom Mittelalter bis zur Gegenwart.
Entries are well laid out and easy to read. A typical entry includes the maker’s name, birth and death date, city and country of activity, brand and label wording, a style summary including particular instruments of note, bibliographical references and references to published photographs of instruments (listed in the appendix).
As a youth, Dilworth was an avid collector of comics and magazines. One magazine that caught his fancy, and fueled his love of all things violin, was The Strad. That same publication reviewed his book in February 2013. Philip Kass wrote, “If you go into any violin shop and look at the books on the shelves, the most battered and worn one will almost certainly be a dictionary of violin makers […] Dilworth’s publication is a valuable addition to any library, doubly so for English speakers, and has already taken a prominent place on my bookshelf.”