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The Pepys Library

And the Historic Collections of Magdalene College Cambridge

M.E.J. Hughes

ISBN: 978 1 85759 953 4
Size: 274 x 196 mm / 7¾ x 10 ¾ in.
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 88
Images: 100

UK £14.95 / US $22.50


  •  Celebrates the highlights of Magdalene’s historic collections with extended descriptions and specially commissioned photography
  • Samuel Pepys’s Library is a remarkable collection of over 3,000 items including medieval manuscripts and early printed books


Samuel Pepys’s Library, as famous in his own lifetime as it is now, was willed by Pepys to Magdalene, the college he had attended in the 1650s. It finally arrived in 1724 to be housed in a handsome new building. A remarkable collection of some 3,000 items, the library includes medieval manuscripts and early printed books by Caxton and Wynkyn de Worde; a naval collection, reflecting Pepys’s role as Secretary to the Admiralty; works by Pepys’s contemporaries and members of the Royal Society, including Newton’s Principia Mathematica; and an unrivalled array of ephemera – letters, playbills and invitations. 

Alongside the Pepys Library, Magdalene has an impressive historic collection, housed in the beautiful Old Library rooms. Evolving from a series of major benefactions to the college across nearly 500 years, combined with the books routinely acquired for the use of students and scholars in the past, the Old Library contains medieval manuscripts, incunabula, prints and papers, as well as the ancient records of the college. 


 M.E.J. Hughes is the Director of English Studies and Pepys Librarian at Magdalene College Cambridge. 


"An excellent companion… Generously illustrated, it reveals the extraordinary diversity of Pepys's collection and showcases some of its highlights, including the Elizabethan treatise on shipbuilding known to Pepys as “Fragments of Ancient Shipwrightry” (originally a loan from one of his colleagues in the Navy Office, which Pepys conveniently “forgot” to return to its owner) and the famous collection of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century blackletter ballads. The most remarkable item featured here is not a book at all, but Athanasius Kircher’s “arca musarithmica”, a machine for musical composition, which clearly appealed to the slightly geeky side of Pepys’s character as well as his love of music. "
Times Literary Supplement