Wren Library at Trinity College, Cambridge has received an “extraordinary” bequest from Mary, Duchess of Roxburghe. The duchess, who died in 2014 at age 99, left over 7,500 books to the library including first editions of Byron, Shelley, Wordsworth, and Tennyson. The bequest is one of the largest received in the library’s history.
Trinity’s librarian, Dr. Nicolas Bell, said in a statement it was “an extraordinary library - one of the most important private collections in Britain, which offers untold discoveries.”
Those untold discoveries include previously unknown manuscripts of Napoleon Bonaparte, George Washington, Florence Nightingale, and Charles Dickens.
The book collection was primarily formed by Mary’s father, Robert Crewe-Milnes, and her grandfather, Richard Monckton Milnes, a Liberal Victorian politician.
Dr. Bell continued: “Richard Monckton Milnes was a fastidious collector of unusual books. As well as major works of English and French literature, his library included transcripts of notorious trials for murder, forgery and witchcraft, rare political pamphlets on the French Revolution and the American Civil War, and several shelves of unpublished literary manuscripts.”
Some highlights from the collection are already on display at Wren Library during regular opening hours.
Image via Trinity College.