Shelf Lives: Four Centuries of Collectors and their Books

A new exhibition has just opened at Cambridge University Library entitled Shelf Lives: Four Centuries of Collectors and their Books. The exhibition focuses on ten individuals who collected books in different times and places and eventually donated their treasured volumes to the University Library. The exhibition gives a great flavour of the variety of special collections held in the library from Anglo-Saxon manuscripts to First World War ephemera, from eighteenth-century Indian playing cards to an unpublished Rupert Brooke poem.

The first collector highlighted, and donor of Anglo-Saxon manuscripts, is none other than our own Archbishop Matthew Parker (1504-1575). Although the library that he left with us is extremely well-known, it’s perhaps less known that a considerable number of books owned by Parker have ended up in other institutions.

We’re going to use the CUL exhibition as an opportunity to write a series of posts looking at Parker as collector, his books and ‘the ones that got away’, as well as focusing attention on some of the other collectors who have deposited material in the Parker Library.

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