This fascinating book describes the history of Oxford University's
great academic library, from the foundation of Cobham's Library in
1367, Richard de Bury's library at Durham College, Duke Humphrey's
Library, Sir Thomas Bodley's bequest and on to the late nineteenth
century. Macray's scholarly work abounds with fascinating detail
and draws not only on the Bodleian's official archives but also
many diaries and gossipy anecdotes. It comes as something of a
shock to discover that one of Bodley's friends accused him of being
'so drunk with applause and vanitie of his librarie' that he
disregarded the needs of his own family and servants. As late as
1712, Bodley's relations were appealing to the Vice Chancellor for
relief from the direst poverty. Among the many strange gifts
received by the Bodleian was a half-burned Russian translation of
the Pickwick Papers found at Sebastopol when the battery was
stormed in 1855.
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