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Distributed for Bodleian Library Publishing

Marks of Genius

Masterpieces from the Collections of the Bodleian Libraries

Distributed for Bodleian Library Publishing

Marks of Genius

Masterpieces from the Collections of the Bodleian Libraries

What sets Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein apart from so many other famous works of fiction? What special combination of creativity and vision made possible the drafting of Magna Carta—a document both so unprecedented and so fundamental to the concept of basic human rights that its name can now be used to define the many declarations that came after it. When describing exceptional accomplishments like these—and the men and women behind them—we use the word “genius.” And while genius is difficult to define, we all recognize that elusive, special quality when we encounter it.
Marks of Genius pays tribute to some of the most remarkable testaments to genius throughout human history, from ancient texts on papyrus and the extraordinary medieval manuscript The Douce Apocalypse to the renowned children’s work The Wind in the Willows. Bringing together some of the rarest and most impressive treasures in the collections of the Bodleian Libraries, it tells the story of each work’s creation and its journey through time, offering insight into the breadth and depth of its influence as well as and its power to fascinate.

Published to accompany an exhibition of the same name at the Morgan Library and Museum in New York, Marks of Genius celebrates with two hundred full-color illustrations works that constitute the pinnacle of human creativity and which we continue to restore and revisit—perhaps in the hopes that some of their remarkable brilliance will rub off.

300 pages | 200 color plates | 9 1/2 x 11 | © 2014

Art: British Art

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“Where can you find locks of Percy Bysshe Shelley’s and Mary Shelley’s hair alongside the fragments of Sappho’s poetry? At the Bodleian Libraries in Oxford, England. And also in the book Marks of Genius. . . The book includes writings and drawings and ephemera dating from ancient times to the twentieth century.”

Los Angeles Times

"What makes Marks of Genius such a gem is the opportunity to witness the handwritten output of geniuses through the ages. You can find a photograph of equations concerning the age and expansion of the universe that Albert Einstein wrote on a blackboard during a talk in 1931. . . . You can also take in images of the Magna Carta . . . and the manuscript of The Wind in the Willows."

Boston Globe

“Marks of Genius is a must. . . . The photographs are rich and detailed, and each entry features illustrative historical context. . . . Collecting this material in one place allows viewers to build a multifaceted understanding of genius.” 


“Fascinating. . . . Balancing erudition with clarity, the catalogue is an invaluable guide to some of civilisation’s textual cornerstones.”

Financial Times

Table of Contents

Richard Ovenden
Toby Blackwell
Blackwell’s and the Bodleian
Reg Carr
The Genius of Sir Thomas Bodley: The Bodleian Library
Richard Ovenden
The Character of Genius
Stephen Hebron
Part One: Marks of Genius
What is Genius?
Written in Their Own Hands
The Most Ingenious Books
Perched on the Shoulders of Giants
The Child of Patronage
Part Two: Genius and Learning
Genius is from Heaven, Learning from Man
Gathering in Books
Books of their owne stoare
For the Use and Ease of Students
The Gigantic Genius of Shakespeare
Concordance of shelfmarks
Copyright credits

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