Christopher Columbus and the Catalogue of Shipwrecked Books

A new book by Edward Wilson-Lee, Fellow of our neighbouring Sidney Sussex College and a regular reader in the Wren Library, tells the scarcely believable – and wholly true – story of Christopher Columbus’s bastard son Hernando, who sought to equal and surpass his father’s achievements by creating a universal library. Here we take a …

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Italian Illuminated Incunabula

The Wren Library has always been famous for its outstanding collection of illuminated manuscripts. Less well known are the illuminations added by hand to many of its earliest printed books. A new catalogue of illuminations in Italian printed books of the fifteenth century in the Cambridge College libraries and the Fitzwilliam Museum has brought to …

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From the Crewe Collection: Wilton Garden – ‘The greatest of English Renaissance gardens’

In the early 1630s Isaac de Caus created at Wilton near Salisbury a formal garden for the sophisticated, learned and hugely wealthy Philip Herbert, fourth earl of Pembroke. De Caus, a French Huguenot exile specialised in the design and construction of grottoes and waterworks and Lord Pembroke had been part of the embassy sent to …

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From the Crewe Collection: Works by Richard Francis Burton

The explorer Richard Francis Burton (1821-1890) was best known for his travels in Africa, Asia and the Americas.  His observations, which he recorded in numerous books and articles, provided a remarkable insight into the lives and habits of the people he encountered. There are five works by Burton in the Crewe collection, of which two …

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From the Crewe Collection: The Rossiad, by Lord Alfred Douglas

The Crewe collection contains a number of early editions of works by Oscar Wilde (1854 - 1900). Wilde was known to the 1st marquess of Crewe when he was Lord Houghton and a fellow member of Wilfrid Scawen Blunt’s Crabbet Club. The collection also contains works about, and relating to, Wilde published after his death. …

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Hockney’s Bigger Book – and a smaller one.

This morning we took delivery of A Bigger Book, David Hockney’s retrospective collection of more than 450 works from throughout his career. Measuring 70 x 50 cm, it is a spectacular survey of more than 60 years of Hockney’s work, from his teenage days at the Bradford School of Art, Los Angeles swimming pools in …

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The Great Fire of London, 2 September 1666

350 years ago today, on 2 September 1666, an unimaginable calamity befell London. No sooner was the plague abated in London, that the inhabitants began to return to their habitations, than a most dreadful fire broke out in the city, and raged as if it had commission to devour every thing that was in its way …

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Recent Additions to the Wren Digital Library (1)

Items added to the Wren Digital Library over the past few weeks include a French translation of St Augustine's De Civitate Dei (R.17.23), a volume which probably belonged to Thomas Becket (B.3.12), an anthology containing marginal commentaries in decorative shapes (O.3.57) and two printed plays by Shakespeare from the Capell Collection (Capell *.19[1] and Capell …

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