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Distributed for Bodleian Library, University of Oxford

A Brief History of the Bodleian Library

Revised edition

How did a library founded over four hundred years ago grow to become the world-renowned institution it is today, home to over thirteen million items? From its foundation by Sir Thomas Bodley in 1598 to the opening of the Weston Library in 2015, this illustrated account shows how the Library’s history has been involved with the British monarchy and political events throughout the centuries. The history of the Library is also a history of collectors and collections, and this book traces the story of major donations and purchases, making use of the Library’s own substantial archives to show how it came to house key items such as early confirmations of the Magna Carta, Shakespeare’s First Folio, and the manuscript of Jane Austen’s earliest writings, among many others.  

This revised edition brings the history of the Bodleian Library up to the present moment. Beautifully illustrated with prints, portraits, manuscripts, and archival material, this book is essential reading for anyone interested in the history of libraries and collections.


288 pages | 100 color plates | 6 1/4 x 9 1/4

History: British and Irish History


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