Recent acquisitions by the Friends


Recently discovered Map of Middle-earth

Perhaps the finest piece of Tolkien ephemera to emerge in recent decades was a map of Middle-earth drawn by Christopher Tolkien and printed in an early edition of J.R.R.Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings.

The map constitutes working material for Pauline Baynes's colour Map of Middle Earth, published by Allen & Unwin in 1970. Removed from Baynes's own copy, the map includes copious annotation by Tolkien with additional annotation by Baynes. 

MS. Tolkien Drawings 132, detail.© Williams College Oxford Programme and the Tolkien Estate Ltd, 2018.

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Detail from a hand-sketched map by Tolkien


Closeup of hand written notes from The Watsons by Jane Austen

Autograph of Jane Austen's The Watsons

In 2011 the Bodleian Library acquired the only known fiction manuscript in Jane Austen's hand that was still in private ownership.

Probably drafted in 1804–05, The Watsons marked a decisive turning point in the kind of fiction Jane Austen was writing. Though never completed for publication, material from it was redeployed, notably in Mansfield Park

A page from the manuscript of Jane Austen's The Watsons (MS. Eng. e. 3764)

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Historic ledgers of Ducker & Son, shoemakers of Turl Street, Oxford

The 11 ledgers bound in red leather cover the period from 1910 to 1963 and feature beautiful copperplate writing detailing the names, addresses, and personal styles of thousands of Ducker & Son's customers.

Over the years, customers included members of European aristocracy, clergy, and several Maharajahs as well as generations of Oxford academics and students. Among Ducker's illustrious clients were J.R.R. Tolkien, Evelyn Waugh, Captain Pitt-Rivers and many politicians.

Page in Ledger 14 (MS. Don. c. 243)

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Row of book spines from Duckers' Ledgers


Hand written notes from Gerard Manley Hopkins' Binsey Poplars

Gerard Manley Hopkins's poem Binsey Poplars

In April 2013 the Bodleian acquired at auction a late autograph draft of Hopkins's celebrated poem Binsey Poplars. It was the most significant Hopkins item to have come to the market in over 40 years.

An Oxford alumnus, Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844–89) is regarded as one of the Victorian era's greatest poets. Binsey Poplars was written in response to the felling of trees running alongside the River Thames in Binsey, on the west side of Oxford. 

Final page of Gerard Manley Hopkins's autograph of 'Binsey Poplars' (MS. Eng. c. 8235, fol. 2)

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Lewis-Gibson Genizah Collection

The Cairo Genizah collection is one of the greatest finds of late Victorian scholars. The Genizah of the Synagogue of Fustat (Old Cairo) contains discarded pieces of writing, which in many cases are rare and sometimes unique witnesses to texts in a variety of fields, among them Biblical fragments.

Ḳedushta, a liturgical poem for Shaḥarit on the Day of Yom Kippur by Joseph Ibn Abitur (Bodleian Libraries/Cambridge University Library, LG Liturgy 3.25)

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Page with hand-drawn diagram of two figures and writing


Old photograph of a woman deep in thought, early 1840s

Personal archive of William Henry Fox Talbot

Talbot's invention of the negative/positive process laid the foundation for all modern pre-digital photography. In his ground-breaking The Pencil of Nature, described by Beaumont Newhall as the 'Gutenberg Bible' of photography, Talbot sets out practical and artistic uses for the new photographic art, including the application of photographic techniques to the printing of images in books. 

Talbot's archive contains material relevant to his photographic and photo-mechanical endeavours, as well as personal papers. 

Two women confiding in the Cloisters at Lacock Abbey, early 1840s (The William Henry Fox Talbot Catalogue Raisonné, Schaaf 2047)

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Other recent acquisitions

  • An Address to Mothers (1784): Perhaps one of the most intriguing items purchased with the support of the Friends in recent months is An Address to Mothers (1784). This first and only edition is surprisingly substantial (240 pages), and was published in Oxford.
  • Library catalogue of John Locke’s Library: The Bodleian is already a major holder of the works of John Locke, and with the assistance of the Friends in January 2019, the Library was able to add to its collection two 19th-century volumes and typed indexes of books from East Horsley Towers, the home of Locke’s cousin, William King, 1st Earl of Lovelace, a descendant of Peter King, 1st Baron King. 
  • Mrs Edgeworth, The Wife; or, A Model for Women. A tale (London, 1810): There are only two known copies of The Wife, attributed to Mrs Edgeworth – one in Canada and one in Germany. The Bodleian’s acquisition of this copy in 2018 is, therefore, a fine example of how the Friends helps to ensure the Libraries’ collections remain unique and pre-eminent.
  • Victor Prout, The Thames from Oxford to London in forty photographs, First and Second series. London: Virtue and Co., 1862 (Arch. K b.22): This rare and important early photographic work features the earliest known panoramic views of the city and county of Oxford as seen from the river in the mid-19th century. The album contains 40 loose albumen prints from collodion negatives mounted on card with individual printed titles.
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Past acquisitions

  • Parry manuscripts
  • Veronica Franco's rare book 
  • Medingen Psalter 
  • Medieval manuscript of The Chastysing of Godde's children
  • Papers containing the pleadings at Rome of several Advocates for King Henry VIII and Queen Catherine concerning their divorce in 1530 
  • Sir Philip Sidney Pedigree Roll 
  • Francesco Cavalli's Erismena 
  • The 'particular-book' of James Nedeham, Surveyor of the King's Works, 1539–40 
  • The Sheldon Tapestry Map of Gloucestershire 
  • The Tom Phillips Archive of Dante's Inferno 
  • Manuscripts of Sir Robert Filmer 
  • Philip Larkin Letters 
  • The Abinger Shelley Papers 
  • Mendelssohn's Hebrides (or Fingal's Cave) Overture 
  • The Book of Curiosities and Marvels for the Eyes 
  • A manuscript Book of Hours 
  • Sir Charles Mackerras: a bust by Antonia Young