Renaissance Queens' Project (2016-18)

Queens' College Library's exciting two-year project to catalogue and digitise key aspects of its exceptional Tudor-period library collection was made possible through the assistance of the Heritage Lottery Fund.  Since the project began in May 2016 the College continues to welcome the general public as well as students and scholars to exhibitions and events held within its medieval reading room.

The books in Queens’ Old Library offer a specifically Cambridge perspective on the cosmopolitan world of Renaissance learning and Tudor politics. As well as recording the patronage and ideas of key figures of the age (Elizabeth Woodville (‘the White Queen’), Richard III, Mary Tudor, Erasmus, and many others) the library chronicles the activities of innumerable now forgotten readers. Bindings by Cambridge craftsmen, hand-annotated texts, Reformation vandalism and other signs of use (and misuse!) afford evidence of how readers responded to the books they read. This project seeks to understand what was collected, by whom, and how Cambridge readers helped shape some of the great developments of the Renaissance. Through our iDiscover catalogue, digital library, social media (Old Library blog and Twitter), and project events we seek to bring this important legacy to life.

The digital galleries on this project website provide free access to an extensive database of images of the library's unique bindings as well as doodlings and annotations left by Queens' library readers of the past 500 years.

The project report is available here.

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