The Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica (BHP), known as the Ritman Library, is a privately-owned library founded in 1957 by Joost Ritman (b.1941), a successful Dutch businessman who has collected rare books since he was a teenager (see Joost talk about his collection here). The library owns more than 23,000 volumes on Hermeticism, Rosicrucianism, Mysticism, Gnosis, Esotericism, Kabbalah, Anthroposophy, Freemasonry, Judaica, the Holy Grail and Sufism. Around 4,500 manuscripts and books are dated before 1800 CE. Among the treasures are the Corpus Hermeticum translated into Latin by Marsilio Ficino, published in 1471, and the first illustrated edition of Dante’s La Divina Commedia from 1481.
Originally a private collection, Joost opened his library to the public in 1984 and now, thanks to financial support from a variety of sources, anyone can visit without charge. The author Dan Brown has been a generous patron of the library, acknowledging the rich treasury of resources he could access when researching his adventure stories.
Early on in Sigil I of The Angel of Secrets story, Beth decides to travel to Amsterdam to visit the Ritman Library. She is hoping to get some insights. Could there really be an old book somewhere, handed down for thousands of years, containing cosmological secrets? Will she find a lead in the library? An old printed document she is allowed to handle does not shed any real light on her quest, but this is where she bumps into Dan Cohen, who is also researching the intriguing story of The Book of Raziel. From this moment on, their lives are inextricably entwined – for better or worse.