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Taylor Institution Library

Address. St. Giles', Oxford, OX1 3NA [Map]
Telephone. (01865) 27 81 58
Fax. (01865) 27 81 65
e-mail. [enquiries@taylib.ox.ac.uk]
Internet. http://www.taylib.ox.ac.uk/

Governing body or responsible institution. University of Oxford
Function. Specialist university library.
Subjects. Medieval and modern European languages and literatures other than English.

Access. Admission to members of the University of Oxford on registration; to others engaged in appropriate research on application. - Lending library for resident members of the University of Oxford and for others by special permission. - Opening hours: 1 October to 30 June, 9 a.m. - 7 p.m., 1 July to 30 September, 9 a.m. - 1 p.m., 2 p.m. - 5 p.m., all Saturdays to 1 p.m. - Closed periods: All Sundays, Good Friday to Easter Monday (incl.), week of the August Bank Holiday, 2 days of St. Giles' Fair (i.e. the Monday and Tuesday after the first Sunday after 1 September), the weekday next before Christmas Day to 1 January (incl.). - No prior notification is needed.
Special facilities. Work-stations with access to the Internet, online services, databases and printers. Microform readers and reader-printer. Self-service photocopiers. Use of lap-top computers is permitted as long as other readers are not disturbed.
Printed information. Readers' guides.
Travel directions. Coaches from Victoria Coach Station London to Oxford (Queen's Lane). C. 15 minutes' walk from Oxford Railway Station. - Parking near the library is extremely difficult. Park and Ride bus services are available at all the main approaches to the city.


1.1 The Taylor Institution was Oxford's first specialist centre to combine library, teaching and administration in one building, anticipating other ``faculty centres' by many years. It owes its name and its existence to the highly successful London architect Sir Robert Taylor (1714-1788), sometime Surveyor to the Bank of England, Architect of the King's Works and Sheriff of London. In a codicil to his will Sir Robert left the residue of his large fortune (£180,000), in the first instance to his son and, in the event of his dying without issue, to the Chancellor and Scholars of the University of Oxford for buying freehold land and ``erecting a proper edifice thereon, and for establishing a foundation for the teaching and improving the European languages'. After various legal complications and the death of Sir Robert's son, Michael Angelo, in 1834, the University inherited the sum of £65,000. It was then decided, unfortunately, perhaps, in the light of later rivalry for space, to combine this project with the quite unrelated plan to build a University art gallery (now the Ashmolean Museum). An architectural competition to design two buildings entirely distinct in their internal arrangements but to form ``parts of an architectural design which is required to be of a Grecian character' was announced in 1839. The winning design by C. R. Cockerell resulted in a handsome neoclassical building, completed in 1844.

1.2 The nature and constitution of the Taylorian were not decided without some controversy. The dominance of classical studies and the influence of High Church religion resulted in an vironment hostile to the introduction of this new (apart from an unsuccessful experiment in the 18th century) area of teaching. Regulations for the Institution were approved in part in April 1845, a board of nine curators from within the senior ranks of the University being then appointed. It was a further two years before full agreement was reached and the Taylorian statute finally passed on 4 March 1847. The aim was to teach those languages ``essential to Diplomatic or commercial pursuits' and possessing a ``sufficient' literature. French and German were first priority, followed later by Italian, Spanish, Slavonic languages, Byzantine and modern Greek and Portuguese and, briefly in the late 19th century, Scandinavian languages. In the first decades teaching was at an elementary level and it was not until 1903 that an Honour School of Modern Languages was at last established.

1.3 In the 19th century books for purchase were suggested by the teachers and decided on by the Library Committee of the Curators at their weekly meeting. The first librarian John Macray (1796-1878) was appointed on 23 March 1847, the first books (all German) bought in May 1848, but from the Curators' minutes it seems that the library did not open until early in 1849. Books were not on open shelves (except to senior members of the University) and until 1856 no borrowing was allowed. The early years saw only a slow growth of the book stock since the Institution's income was largely taken up with repayments of the building costs. Two collections antedated the library and were moved there in the first year, namely the architectural books of the founder and the large collection of books and works of art bequeathed to the University by Robert Finch, both described below 2.12-2.14. The library also provided a temporary home for two other unrelated collections (the Hope Entomological from 1849 and the Strickland Ornithological from 1854) until they were moved to the newly built University Museum in 1860.

1.4 The library's first published catalogue, in 1861, listed some 6,000 book titles, two thirds of which represented works in the Finch collection. From 1858 to the end of the 19th century about £250 p. a. was spent on acquisitions with a further £80-£100 for bindings. From time to time special supplementary grants would be made. In 1874, at the suggestion of Friedrich Max Müller (1823-1900), the Taylorian's second Professor of Modern European Languages and for many years a most active Curator and supporter of the library, the sum of £500 was provided for filling gaps in the collection particularly in the early period of literature. Consequently most of the library's incunables and Reformation pamphlets were acquired in the 1870s and 1880s. The last quarter of the 19th century was a period of particular activity and growth. On the retirement of the first Librarian in 1871 the Curators resolved to elect ``a competent Librarian and not simply a Library Clerk'. Accordingly, Dr Heinrich Krebs (1844-1921), a native of Darmstadt and with a Ph.D. degree from the University of Freiburg im Breisgau was appointed on 12 May 1871. He was to remain in post for the next 50 years. In the early 1870s the collections, then numbering c. 13,000 items, were entirely reorganised and recatalogued by an assistant librarian from the Bodleian Library, George Parker. In 1895 the library was augmented by more than 1,000 vols mainly of early Spanish and Portuguese works bequeathed by Miss Williamina Mary Martin (1819-1895; see below 2.22). By the end of the century some 350 titles were being acquired annually and the library subscribed to 114 periodicals and newspapers. The collection was said to number 40,000 vols in 1900.

1.5 In this century the library has been greatly hanced by bequests from teaching staff associated with the Institution (e.g. Professor Hermann Georg Fiedler, 1862-1945, see below 2.17 -2.18) and by Oxford colleges depositing specialist collections (Oriel College being the first to do so in 1921). Major events in the library's history this century must include the opening of a substantial extension to the building (1932) which facilitated wholesale reclassification of the modern stock in the 1960s and 1970s and provision of open shelf access for graduates. From 1964, following the Parry report on Latin American studies, the library began to build up substantial Latin American collections. In 1968, because of pressure on space, the Slavonic and Modern Greek collections were removed from the main building, and separately housed and organised. 1975 saw two far-reaching changes in the library, namely the opening of the Voltaire Room, established to promote study on the Enlightenment, and the creation of the University's out-of-town book repository, now home to many of the library's older collections. In 1985 the library's Germanic holdings took a new direction when the nearly 3,000 vols of Whitechapel Public Library's Yiddish collection, containing many uncommon books from the first half of the 20th century, were acquired.


2.1 The library now has a total stock approaching half a million volumes (471,408 in 1997 statistics) and has claims to be the largest separate modern languages library in Britain. The older collections of the Main Library are estimated at c. 57,000 titles, which figure may be roughly doubled for the number of volumes. This figure is based on a count of entries in the pre-1801 chronological index and a count of 19th-century items in a sampling of 1 in 5 vols of the pre-1971 alphabetical author guardbook catalogue (i.e. 42 vols out of a total of 208 were analysed). This catalogue does not include material now in the Slavonic and Greek section nor older material acquired after 1987.

Chronological outline and analysis by language

2.2 The library has 55 incunables (56 if the undated Rommant de la rose printed between 1498 and 1505 is admitted), 1,359 titles from the 16th century, 3,447 from the 17th century (not including 1,705 Mazarinades), and 10,442 from the 18th century and (in the Main Library collection) c. 41,800 from the 19th century. The estimated figures for 19th-century publications should be treated with some caution. Linguistically the older collections comprise 45 per cent French titles, 22 per cent German, 13 per cent Italian, 7 per cent English, 5 per cent Spanish, 2 per cent Scandinavian languages, 2 per cent Latin and the remainder titles in Dutch, Portuguese, Greek, Celtic languages, Catalan, Provençal, Frisian, Romanian, Romansch etc.

2.3 An analysis of non-German language titles with German imprints gives the following breakdown: 10 incunabula in Latin; 85 items from the 16th century mostly in Latin but with 8 in Spanish, Italian or Romansch; 165 from the 17th century, with more than half being in French and 14 in Italian; for the 18th century the figure rises to 400 of which the majority are in French. As far as possible items with fictitious imprints (of which more than 300 have been noted) have been excluded from these figures. An estimate for 19th-century Western Europe items would indicate c. 500 titles of which one third are in Latin, c. 18 per cent in Spanish and c. 10 per cent each in English and French.

Subject outline

2.4 The Taylor Institution is the centre for the study of medieval and modern European languages (except English) in Oxford. The purpose of its library has always been to provide a working collection to support that study rather than to be a rare books collection. In the 19th century the collecting policy was eclectic. Although philology and European belles-lettres were the main areas covered, other subjects such as history, theology and even jurisprudence are indicated in the locator lists. The focus of collection in the 20th century has been increasingly restricted to the core subject matter, i.e. all the languages and literatures of continental Europe (plus the Celtic languages), especially those studied at Oxford. Some collections beyond this field have been deposited with other more relevant Oxford libraries (e.g. Fry Herbals, Classical Periodicals).

2.5 However, a detailed subject analysis of the library's older collections is impossible. There has never been a subject catalogue and, in general, the older collections are not classified. The automation of the catalogues, due for completion in 2000, will ultimately permit subject access to all the library's holdings. The older books of the library are organised in four main categories, viz. Fixed location sequences, Numerus currens sequences, Classified sections and Special Collections.

Fixed location sequences

2.6 The general collections were reorganised in the 1870s into sequences arranged by size, language and subject on a ``fixed location' principle. 20 broad language/subject groups were established and have survived largely undisturbed for those books acquired up to the 1930s. Philology, poetry and drama are the main subject areas but a wide range of other subjects from astronomy to zoology is represented. As an example, the section of the ``locator control catalogue' for works in the shelf-mark range 87-92 noted as ``German [i.e. written in German or published in Germany] history, theology and jurisprudence' contains 510 titles, including the monumental Geschichte der europäischen Staaten (190 vols, 1829-1931), collected works of Kepler, Melanchthon, Schleiermacher and 95 Luther tracts (see below 2.16). Carl Ritter, Erdkunde im Verhältnis zur Natur ... des Menschen (Berlin 1822-1859) and Johann Georg Meusel, Das gelehrte Teutschland (Lemgo 1796-1834) are typical of the library's profile in the 19th century. Other major sets in this category include the Almanach de Gotha (1858-1941); J. S. Ersch and J. G. Gruber, Allgemeine Encyclopädie der Wissenschaften und Künste (167 vols, Leipzig 1818-1847) and J. H. Zedler, Grosses vollständiges Universal Lexicon aller Wissenschaften und Künste (68 vols, Halle 1732-1754).

2.7 Other headings for the core of the 19th-century acquisitions include: ``bibliography and philology' 2,400 titles (including many booksellers' catalogues), ``dictionaries' 686 titles, ``English philology and literature' 540, ``French literature, history and poetry' 2,681, ``German literature, poetry and history' 2,153. Despite the official disdain for novels, the reading of which was restricted till as late as 1926, there are titles by Eugenie Marlitt, Fanny Lewald, Berthold Auerbach and Louise Mühlbach in this section. There are other (smaller) sections of Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Scandinavian, Classical, Slavonic and Oriental literature. The influence of Friedrich Max Müller (see above 1.4) is evident not only in family copies of works by his father, the poet Wilhelm Müller, which were given to the library but also in the material on Indian and Oriental philology, mythology etc.

Numerus currens sequences

2.8 The principle of fixed location was abandoned in the 1960s when detailed, usually in-house, classification schemes were devised and applied to the modern collections. In the 1960s, sequences of older (usually pre-1860 publications) and rare or fragile material from later periods were established, divided principally by language, century and size and with the shelf-mark prefix ``Vet'. The German sequence contains 1,638 titles published before 1901 (in 2,434 vols). Mainly literary or linguistic in character, the collection includes some titles on philosophy, religion and travel as well as collected works of Frederick the Great (in French), 32 titles in Latin, older translations of German works, almanachs, Taschenbücher and a group of 27 chapbooks published mainly in Leipzig, Dresden and Reutlingen between c. 1803 and 1838. The equivalent section for French numbers 10,599 vols, Italian 2,530 and smaller groups in other languages.

2.9 In recent years further numerus currens sequences have been designated for books which are being kept at an out-of-town repository. The main sequences (primarily of literary and linguistic interest) are German (11,000 vols), French (14,000), Italian (5,067), Spanish (4,460) and smaller sections in other languages. Within these sequences it is estimated that between 3-5 per cent of the items are pre-1901.

Classified sections

2.10 Some material from the latter part of the 19th century is incorporated into the classified sections instituted in the 1960s and 1970s. The total size of these sections estimated (by measurement) would indicate c. 41,000 vols in the German section, 52,000 in the French, 19,200 in the Italian, 15,500 in the Spanish, 14,000 in the Latin American, 7,000 in the Portuguese and 5,000 in the Celtic sections. It is estimated that 3-5 per cent of these totals would be 19th-century publications. The section devoted to general bibliography, history of the book and facsimiles of manuscripts has a significantly higher percentage of older material, viz. 551 vols out of 3,737 (14.7 per cent). Of these 71 are German.

Journals, series and newspapers

2.11 The library has extensive holdings of periodicals from the 18th century onwards. Most of the library's journals have been drawn together into various alphabetical sequences. The Periodicals Reading Room contains runs of 113 journal titles, 15 of which are pre-1901 (and of these 6 are German, 4 French, 3 English etc.). A second, larger sequence contains runs of 2,084 titles of which 170 are pre-1901 (of these 63 are German, 56 French, 17 Italian, 8 Spanish, 7 Portuguese, with smaller portions in other languages). Similar sequences exist for Celtic titles (84, of which 2 are German) and Linguistics (34, 2 for older German). Among the earliest German titles are Schiller's Die Horen (1795-1797), Johann Heinrich Voss's Musenalmanach (1776-1798) and a long but incomplete run of Wieland's Der Teutsche Merkur (1773-1807). Series in the collection include not only the major literary titles, for example a complete set of the Bibliothek des literarischen Vereins in Stuttgart (1, Stuttgart 1842 ff.). The library has not only subscribed to the main European text societies from the beginning as Quellen und Forschungen zur Sprach- und Culturgeschichte der germanischen Völker (1, Strasbourg 1874 ff.), but also owns significant runs of historical and other series from the 19th century such as Monumenta Germaniae historica (Berlin 1826 ff., subscription now discontinued) and Hanserecesse (Leipzig 1870-1913). In the 19th century the library subscribed to a small number of continental newspapers. The main German title is the Allgemeine Zeitung (München 1849-1921, with Beilage for 1891-1908).

Special collections

Sir Robert Taylor's books

2.12 At an early date (probably 1848) the founder's own collection of 70 major 17th and 18th-century architectural books plus 3 vols in manuscript of his own designs, were brought from London to the Taylorian. Italian works predominate (Sir Robert had visited Italy as a young man). 37 titles are in Italian, including 22 of the handsome G. B. Piranesi publications, 22 titles are in English, 10 in French and just one in German, viz. Paul Decker, Fürstlicher Baumeister oder Architectura civilis. Erster Theil (Augsburg 1711).

Finch collection

2.13 The Rev. Robert Finch (1783-1830) was a student at Balliol College, graduated in 1805 and thereafter spent much of his life abroad, mostly in Italy where he had some acquaintance with the writer Mary Shelley and her poet brother. He there built up a large and varied collection of more than 5,000 books, works of art and coins. A life interest in the collection was bequeathed to his secretary and protégé Enrico Mayer (1802-1877), who later achieved recognition as an educationist and patriot, and thereafter to the University of Oxford, together with funds to maintain and enlarge it, on condition that the collection be kept together. In 1839 Mayer, being on the point of imprisonment, ceded his interest in the collection which was brought to Oxford and transferred in its entirety to the Taylorian in 1847. It remained there for many decades as a separate collection (the Librarian being paid an extra salary as its curator). The main emphasis of the collection being on classical and English literature and art it proved ill-suited to the purposes of the Institution. In 1921, at a time of desperate pressure on space, an order of the High Court of Justice authorised the breaking up of the collection. Manuscript material (mainly diaries and correspondence of Finch) and 3,500 books including 33 incunables were removed to the Bodleian Library. Works of art and coins were taken to the Ashmolean Museum and books in modern foreign languages remained in the Taylorian. The income from the fund was likewise divided between the 3 institutions. Provision was also made for the sale of unwanted material.

2.14 The collection now consists of c. 3,000 vols, only one third of which derive from Finch's own library, the remainder having been purchased using income from the Finch fund. Literary and linguistic works from the 16th to the early 19th centuries now predominate, primarily in Italian and French. German works account for c. 270 vols, among which are early editions of Karl Philipp Moritz, including the periodical Gnothi sauton: oder, Magazin zur Erfahrungsseelenkunde als ein Lesebuch für Gelehrte und Ungelehrte (Berlin 1783-1793), Dorothea Schlegel's translation of Germaine de Staël's novel Corinna, oder Italien (Berlin 1807), and, from Finch's original library, early collected works of Johann Joachim Winckelmann (Dresden 1808-1820) and a first edition of Schiller's Wilhelm Tell (Tübingen 1804).

German special collections

2.15 Incunabula. The library owns 56 incunabula, most acquired by purchase in the 1870s (see above 1.4). Of these 15 were printed in Germany, 10 being in Latin and 5 in German. Among the former group are texts by Petrarch, Sebastian Brant, Walter Burley and Isidore of Seville. The German texts include Johann Tauler, Sermonen und Historia (Leipzig: Conrad Kachelofen 1498, coming from the dispersed holdings of St. Peter's Monastery in Erfurt) and Ortolff von Bayrlandt, Arzneibuch (Nuremberg: Anton Koberger 1477). The library possesses both the Latin and the German versions of the Golden Bull of Charles IV printed by Friedrich Creussner in Nuremberg. Philosophy is represented by Walter Burley's De vita et moribus philosophorum ([Cologne: Ulrich Zell, c. 1470]), philology by Isidore of Seville's Etymologiae ([Augsburg:] Günther Zainer 1472), and travel literature by Hans Tucher's Reise in das gelobte Land (Augsburg: Anton Sorg 1486). The remaining incunabula number 34 Italian, 4 French, 2 Dutch and one Spanish.

2.16 Reformation pamphlets. The library has a significant collection of 436 tracts and Flugschriften mainly by Luther with a few by Melanchthon, Hutten and others. Most were acquired in the 1870s, many as duplicates from German libraries, notably from Heidelberg in 1878. Further additions were made in the 1920s and 1930s and two titles were presented by Professor Fiedler in 1940. The pamphlets range in date between 1518 and 1589. 32 are in Latin, the remainder in German. The Luther titles include An den christlichen Adel deutscher Nation (Augsburg 1520), De captivitate babylonica ecclesiae and Von der Freiheit eines Christenmenschen (both Wittenberg 1520) and, not surprisingly, Ein sendbrief ...Von Dolmetzschen (Nuremberg 1530). The library also has a copy of the Low German version of Luther's Bible translation by Johann Bugenhagen published in 1533-1534, in Lübeck, some months before the High German version. This was also acquired in the 1870s.

2.17 Fiedler Collection. Hermann Georg Fiedler (1862-1945), the first Taylor Professor of German (1907-1937) and for many years a Curator was a constant benefactor to the library throughout his life. After his death his daughter, Herma, gave her father's fine collection to the library together with funds for further purchases in German. The Fiedler collection now comprises some 4,000 vols (of which 1,675 date before 1901) and reflects Professor Fiedler's special interests in Middle High German language and literature, major and minor writers of the 18th century and Anglo-German literary relations, particularly German-English translations. Five vols derive from Thomas Carlyle's library, having been bought at auction by Fiedler in 1932. A copy of subscribers to Carlyle's lectures on German literature in 1837 was also given to the library by Miss Fiedler together with a large archive of letters and personal and professional papers from her father's estate. Fiedler was a life long friend of Gerhart Hauptmann (who based the character of Professor Geiger in Vor Sonnenuntergang upon him) and letters between the two families are also present. A further 473 pre-1901 titles have been added to the collection (shelf-mark Fiedler Adds.), but though German books are still acquired through the Fiedler fund they are no longer added to the collection.

2.18 The Fiedler collection has texts from the 16th to the 20th century, one of the earliest being Aliquot nomina propria Germanorum ad priscam etymologiam restituta (Wittenberg 1544) attributed to Martin Luther. A further 28 items date from before 1700. However, the collection is particularly rich in works of the 18th and early 19th centuries (757 titles in 1,095 vols published before 1851). Early editions of both major and minor writers of this period are accompanied by numerous, often rare, early English or French translations. Examples include Goethes Schriften (Leipzig 1787-1790), with engraved plates by Daniel Chodowiecki and Angelica Kauffmann. This contains the first published version of Faust as Faust: ein Fragment. Associated with this are no fewer than 80 19th-century translations, adaptations and parodies of the Faust legend (including a Victorian burlesque). Similarly there are two early editions of Goethe's Die Leiden des jungen Werthers (Bern 1775 and Leipzig 1775) and 29 older translations and ``Wertheriads'. There are early editions of Schiller including Die Jungfrau von Orleans (Berlin 1802) plus some 60 early translations. The same is true for Gottfried August Bürger (especially his Lenore), Salomon Gessner, Klopstock, Kotzebue, Lessing, Jean Paul, Wieland and of the 19th-century authors E. T. A. Hoffmann, Friedrich Heinrich K. Fouqué, and Johann Karl A. Musäus. There is, of course, a first edition of the Schlegel-Tieck translation of Shakespeare's plays (Berlin 1825-1833) and of Thomas Carlyle's German romance (Edinburgh 1827). Travel literature from this period is also represented with accounts of travels by Britons in Germany and Germans in Britain, e.g. Karl Philipp Moritz, Reisen eines Deutschen in England, im Jahr 1782 (Berlin 1783 and 2nd ed. 1785).

2.19 Montgomery collection. Marshall Montgomery (1880-1930), Lecturer (later Reader) in German from 1920 accumulated a working collection of 1,750 vols given to the library by his widow in 1938. 570 vols date from the 19th century or earlier (2 from the 16th century, 6 from the 17th century, 79 from the 18th century). The emphasis of the collection is predominantly on German literature, philology and history. Some items, e.g. Albrecht von Eyb, Margarita poetica (Basel 1503) and Mitauisches Gesangbuch (Leipzig 1771), handsomely bound in stained red vellum, have been moved to other collections in the library.

French special collections

2.20 Although by far the greatest part of these collections is in French, there are, however, some collections containing German material. These only are mentioned here.

Voltaire Room. The Taylor Institution Library is a major centre for research on Voltaire and the French Enlightenment, thanks in great part to the special interests and expertise of the fifth Librarian (1970-1996) Giles Barber and to a major benefaction from Dr Theodore D. N. Besterman (1904-1976), psychical researcher, bibliographer (known especially for his World bibliography of bibliographies) and Voltaire scholar. Dr Besterman defrayed most of the costs of establishing the Voltaire Room which opened in January 1975 and which brings together the library's main holdings by and on Voltaire, Rousseau, Diderot etc. together with volumes from Dr Besterman's own collection. The Voltaire Room contains 3,139 titles in 5,420 vols. One third of these (1051 titles) are of the 18th century and include 105 French titles (in 202 vols) with German imprints, real or fictitious. Among these are two full sets (plus additional copies of some volumes) of the Kehl edition (1785-1789) of Voltaire's works. The library is unique in holding all 20 known early editions of Voltaire's Candide (1759), two of which are thought to have been printed in Germany.

Mylne collection. In 1992 the library inherited the major collection of 18th-century French novels bequeathed by Prof. Vivienne Mylne. Of the 1,007 vols 49 have a German imprint (real or fictitious) or in one case a false London imprint for an edition of the collected works of Crébillon published in Frankfurt by Varrentrapp.

Queen's College. This collection, donated by The Queen's College in 1938, contains the Bibliothèque universelle des romans (1775-1789, nouvelle édition 1798-1805) and also includes the Monumenta Boica (35 vols in 37, Munich 1763-1847) on German, especially Bavarian, local history.

Zaharoff collection. In November 1918 the University accepted a gift of £25,000 for promoting the teaching of French from the financier and arms dealer Sir Basil Zaharoff. This fund established the Marshal Foch Professorship of French literature, and has also enabled the library to make extensive acquisitions of antiquarian French works. The Zaharoff collection now consists of c. 800 vols primarily of French literary interest. 15 items from the 17th to 18th centuries are in French and have German imprints, some of which are fictitious.

Italian special collections

2.21 The following collections contain some material printed in Germany or in German:

Guarini collection. The library has an outstanding collection of the popular 16th-century pastoral tragicomedy by G. Battista Guarini, Il Pastor fido, originally published in 1590 and rarely out of print since. A provisional check-list records 454 editions, reprints, translations and adaptations. Built on a core of 33 editions in the Finch collection, the library now has copies of 181 of these, including translations into Dutch, English, French, Greek, Portuguese and Spanish. There are 5 German translations published between 1636 and 1822, including that by Christian Hofmann von Hofmannswaldau (1679). A further 7 Italian texts, 4 Italian/French parallel texts and 2 French translations have German imprints (3 being the spurious Pierre Marteau, ``Cologne' imprints, in fact published by Elzevier in Leiden). There is also a parody published in Leipzig in Italian, Il pastor infido da N. die Castelli (1696). The collection includes the only edition of Biagio Teppati's French prose translation, published in Nuremberg in 1668.

Moore collection. This collection of c. 900 vols largely consisting of works by and on Dante was placed on loan in the Library by The Queen's College in 1939. It had been bequeathed to that college by Dr Edward Moore (1835-1916), Principal of St. Edmund Hall, Taylorian Lecturer in Dante from 1895 to 1908 and a founder of the Dante Society (1876). 21 vols of the papers of the Society accompanied the collection. The collection includes 22 vols printed in the 16th century, 5 in the 17th century, 19 in the 18th century and 532 in the 19th century, of which 15 are in German.

Hispanic collections

2.22 German material is to be noted in the following collections:

Martin collection. This fine collection was bequeathed to the library in May 1895 by Miss Williamina Mary Martin (1819-1895) of Newland Hurst near Droitwich, youngest child of Sir Thomas Byam Martin (1773-1854), Admiral of the Fleet. The collection consisted of 777 titles in 1,178 vols. Spanish titles predominate, Portuguese is also substantially represented. There are early editions of Cervantes, Calderón and Lope de Vega as well as works on historical and religious topics. There are 18 titles (25 vols) in German, mainly from the first half of the 19th century. A further 11 Spanish and 2 Portuguese titles from the 16th to the 19th centuries have German imprints. The collection is only partially kept together.

Butler Clarke collection. Henry Butler Clarke (1863-1904) was Taylorian Teacher in Spanish from 1890 to 1894, and Fellow of St. John's College. His library consisting of Latin, Arabic and Spanish books on Spanish civilisation before the re-discovery of America was given by his family to St. John's College after his suicide. In 1933 the College deposited most of the collection, together with other Spanish works, on loan to the Taylorian. The collection now comprises 414 titles in 614 vols. 293 titles are in Spanish with 4 of the 19th-century items being German-published. 43 titles are in French, 28 in English and 13 in German (all 19th-century). Latin accounts for 2 titles from the 16th century (one published in Frankfurt), 2 from the 17th century (one published in Strasbourg, one in Frankfurt), 4 from the 18th century (one in Leipzig) and 6 from the 19th century, 5 of which are German-published. There are also Italian, Portuguese and Arabic items. The works deal chiefly with Spanish history and some with literature. A number of volumes have been transferred to other collections.

Other special collections

2.23 Pre-1801 dictionaries. The library has rich holdings of older dictionaries and grammars. In 1981 most of the Main Library's pre-1801 language dictionaries were brought together in a chronological sequence subdivided by size. This collection numbers 314 titles in 420 vols. French titles predominate (104) followed by 49 English, 43 German, 37 Italian, 23 Latin, 19 Spanish and single items in other languages. Of the German titles one is Yiddish published by the Jesuits in Prague in 1773, Kleines jüdisch-deutsches Wörterbuch, one is Frisian (Tileman Dothian Wiarda, Altfriesisches Wörterbuch, Aurich 1786), one relates to Estonia and Livonia (August Wilhelm Hupel, Idiotikon der deutschen Sprache in Lief- und Ehstland, Riga 1795).

2.24 Prince Louis-Lucien Bonaparte collection. In 1922 the library was given 224 pamphlets issued under the auspices of the Prince, mainly versions of Biblical texts as specimens of dialects. 6 items are from the Prince's private press, one is in Frisian. There is only one item in German.

2.25 Fry collection. This varied and interesting collection was given to the library in 1955 by the Misses Esther Catherine, Susan Mary and Josephine Fry. It represents the family library from their home at The Manor House, Upton, Berks. and consists of more than 800 vols mainly of European literary works in editions from the 17th to the 19th century. While English and French works predominate there are 46 19th-century volumes in German and a smaller number in Italian, Spanish and Portuguese. A distinct group of 95 herbals and early works on natural history, mostly dating from the 16th to 18th centuries also formed part of this collection. Nine of the 16th-century and 2 of the 17th-century titles were published in Germany or Switzerland, mainly in Latin but 2 in English and one in German, viz. Leonhart Fuchs, New Kreüterbuch (Basel 1543). The original Latin text of 1542 and a French translation of 1549 are also in the collection. The Fry Herbals were deposited in the University's Department of Plant Sciences Library in 1991.

2.26 Oriel collection. In 1921 Oriel College presented a collection of c. 100 books mainly of philological interest (half of these are 19th-century German) plus a long run of the periodical Zeitschrift für die Österreichischen Gymnasien (1850-1913).

2.27 Other Western European languages. The Taylorian also has significant older collections on languages and literatures which are not specifically studied in Oxford e. g. Basque, Dutch, Frisian and the Scandinavian languages. Of particular interest for German are the Rhaeto-Romance/Romansch holdings which, though not kept together as a discrete collection, are substantial. The existing holdings were greatly enhanced in 1990 by a gift of more than 300 vols from Douglas Bartlett Gregor (1909-1995), linguist, teacher and passionate defender of minority languages. The library's oldest book in Romansch is L'g Nuof Sainc Testament (Basel 1560) said to be only the second book published in the language. A further 59 titles from the 16th to 19th centuries were published in German-speaking areas and of these half are in Romansch.

Slavonic, East European and Greek collections

2.28 These collections, separately housed, comprise 40,000 titles in some 90,000 vols (estimated in 1991). Of these more than 370 titles were published before 1801, 70 being in Russian or other Slavonic languages. The library has outstanding holdings in this area, its collection on Russian literature in particular being pre-eminent in Britain, according to a national survey of 1987. Linguistically the collection includes all the Slavonic, Baltic and Finno-Ugric languages, Albanian, Byzantine and modern Greek. The main subject areas covered are language, literature, folklore and history. The holdings have been much riched by donated and deposited collections, often the private libraries of teachers associated with the Institution, notably Oxford's first two professors of Russian, William Richard Morfill (1834-1909) and Nevill Forbes (1883-1929). Since the Second World War interest in Slavonic studies has greatly increased and the collections have expanded rapidly, augmented by substantial further bequests and donations, namely two general Slavonic collections, a collection of modern Polish and of modern Czech literature.

2.29 Morfill collection. William Richard Morfill was the greatest of the 19th-century pioneers of Slavonic studies in Britain. He gave the Institution's first lecture on Slavonic languages in 1870. He bequeathed his library to The Queen's College which in turn deposited the Slavonic items (c. 4,000 vols) in the Taylorian in 1936. This remarkable and wide-ranging collection covers the language, literature, history and culture of all the Slavonic peoples and contains many major 19th and early 20th-century works. It has particular strengths in folk literature and Russian Symbolism. It contains 13 16th-century items (12 in Latin, one in Czech) which are mainly historical in content. Of these 6 were published in Basel, 5 in Germany, 2 in Prague. The earliest item in this collection (and in the Slavonic collections generally) is an imperfect edition of Gregorius Reisch, Margarita philosophica (Freiburg 1503). 17th-century publications number 54, of which 18 are in Latin (and 7 in German, compared with 17 English items and 12 in other European languages). Of the 127 18th-century titles, 41 are in English (memoirs, travel writings and history), 33 are in Russian (including a number of translations from western European literatures and several dictionaries and grammars, one being a German grammar), 17 in German and 16 in Latin, French, Polish etc. with German imprints. 19th-century publications predominate with 2,898 titles, of which 841 are in Russian, 533 in English, 427 in German, 260 in Czech, 253 in Polish, 238 in French and 346 in various other languages.

2.30 Nevill Forbes collection. The 2,000 vols of Russian, Serbo-Croatian and Polish language, literature, history and culture were bequeathed to the library in 1929. There are 7 18th-century titles. Of the 304 19th-century titles, 128 are in Russian, 55 in other Slavonic languages, 26 in German (plus 7 published in Polish, English, French or Latin in Ger- man areas). The rest is in other European languages.

2.31 Albanian collection. The core of the collection consists of the library of F. W. and Margaret Hasluck, eminent Albanologists who bequeathed their books to the Taylorian in 1950. 45 of the 600 vols date from the 17th to 19th centuries and of these 12 are in German.

2.32 Byzantine and Modern Greek. The library's general stock in this area consists of c. 5,000 vols on modern Greek language and literature with some Byzantine history and theology. Antiquarian holdings are confined almost entirely to volumes in the Dawkins collection. Richard McGillivray Dawkins (1871-1955) was Oxford's first Professor of Byzantine and Modern Greek (appointed in 1920). His collection of books (c. 2,000 vols plus 1,800 pamphlets) on the literature, folklore and history of Modern Greece, Albania and Byzantium was bequeathed to Exeter College which deposited it on permanent loan in the Taylorian in 1955. 15 titles date from the 16th century (6 in Latin of which 2 were published in Germany). There are 46 17th-century titles (of which one was published in Germany) and 30 18th-century titles (8 in Greek, of which 2 were published in Vienna). Of the 357 19th-century books 77 are German-published. The large collection of pamphlets (many thought to be unavailable elsewhere in this country) are kept together but not classified. They date mostly from the first half of the 20th century.


3.1 Modern catalogues

Alphabetical author catalogue

[on printed slips in guardbook volumes for pre-1971 publications; in course of conversion to machine-readable form and incorporation into the Oxford

University union catalogue (OLIS) [due for completion by July 2000]

Main Library collections:

Online catalogue (OLIS, see above)

[for all post-1970 publications and progressively for older publications as conversion proceeds]

Chronological card catalogue of pre-1801 imprints

Author/subject card catalogue of articles in selected periodicals

Card catalogues of selected bookplates, fine bindings and provenances

Card catalogue of 18th-century typographical ornaments

Card catalogue of manuscripts, manuscript facsimiles and microforms, autographed books

Slavonic and Modern Greek collections:

Alphabetical author card catalogue

[With c. 90,000 entries, in the original Cyrillic, Greek etc. alphabets (only catalogue headings are transliterated). This is in course of conversion to machine-readable form and incorporation into OLIS; target date for completion is July 2000.]

3.2 Special catalogues

Arteaga y Pereira, F. de: A catalogue of the portion of the library of H. Butler Clarke, now in the library of St John's College. Oxford 1906

[Sutherland, Donald Martell:] Catalogue of the Fiedler Collection: manuscript material and books up to and including 1850. Oxford 1962

Pegg, Michael A.: A catalogue of German Reformation pamphlets (1516-1546) in libraries of Great Britain and Ireland. Baden-Baden 1973 (Bibliotheca Bibliographica Aureliana 45) [lists Taylor Institution locations]

Gilson, David John: Books from the library of Sir Robert Taylor in the Library of the Taylor Institution: a checklist. Oxford 1973; repr. 1975

Rhodes, Dennis E.: A catalogue of incunabula in all the libraries of Oxford University outside the Bodleian. Oxford 1982 [quotes Taylor Institution locations]

The incunables are recorded in the Incunabula Short Title Catalogue (ISTC).

3.3 Historic catalogues

Author catalogue. 1847- [MS, 1 vol.]

Author catalogue 1867- [MS, 2 vols]

Author catalogue. 1876- [MS, 6 vols]

Moore Dante collection [MS, 2 vols]

Morfill collection [MS, 4 vols]

Microfilm of general author catalogue in 13 reels filmed in 1972. Copies of this are kept also at the British Library Document Supply Centre and the Bodleian Library.

A catalogue of the Library of the Taylor Institution. 1861

Annual printed accessions lists [1878-1920]

[Parker, George:] A catalogue of the books in the Finch collection Oxford. Oxford 1874


4.1 Archival sources

Extensive archives include:

The Curators' minute books 1845-

Library committee minute books

Register of additions to the library 1849-1921

Borrowings records 1857-

Suggestions books 1849-1971

Librarian's correspondence and papers relating to donated collections 1859-

Account books 1835-1882 [including an abstract of the will of Sir Robert Taylor]

Booksellers' and binders' invoices 1857-1922

[Most of the above are housed in the Oxford University Archives where they were deposited in 1971. A detailed list of these archives is available.]

4.2 Publications

Firth, Charles: Modern languages at Oxford 1724-1929. London 1929

Morgan, Paul: Taylor Institution. In: Oxford libraries outside the Bodleian. A guide. 2nd ed. Oxford 1980, pp. 191-199

Barber, Giles Gaudard: The Taylor Institution. In: The history of the University of Oxford, vol. 6, part 1, ed. by M. G. Brock and M. C. Curthoys. Oxford 1997, pp. 631-640

Barber, Giles Gaudard: The Taylor Institution Library (Unfamiliar Libraries 19). In: The Book Collector 47 (1998) pp. 319-341


Barber, Giles Gaudard: A German late renaissance binding. In: Bodleian Library Record 9 (1976) pp. 217-219

Gilson, David John: Herbals in the Fry collection at the Taylor Institution. In: The Book Collector 22 (1973) pp. 44-62

Gilson, David John: Prince Louis-Lucien Bonaparte's publications. In: The Book Collector 13 (1964) pp. 348-350

Hughes, Jill: The Taylor Institution Library. In:

David Paisey (ed.): German studies: British resources. Papers presented at a colloquium at the British Library 25-27 September 1985. London 1986, pp. 196-204

Rhodes, Dennis E.: An account of cataloguing incunables in Oxford college libraries. In: Renaissance Quarterly 29 (1976) pp. 1-20

Simmons, John S. G.: Slavonica Tayloriana Oxoniensia. In: Cahiers du monde russe et soviétique 10 (1969) pp. 536-545

Taylor Institution Library: The European languages. A selection of books from the Taylor Institution in commemoration of the death of Sir Robert Taylor 27 September 1788. Oxford 1988

Thomas, David H.: A checklist of editions of major French authors in Oxford libraries 1526-1800. Oxford 1986

Thomas, David H.: A checklist of editions of major French authors in Oxford libraries. First supplement. In: Studies on Voltaire and the Eighteenth Century 266 (1989) pp. 549-591

See also: A directory of rare book and special collections ...2nd ed. London 1997, pp. 537-539

June 1999

Jill Hughes

Quelle: Handbuch der historischen Buchbestände in Deutschland. Digitalisiert von Günter Kükenshöner.
Hrsg. von Bernhard Fabian. Hildesheim: Olms Neue Medien 2003.