Thursday, June 3, 2010

Oxford and the Bodleian Library

The town of Oxford has been around since before the middle ages, dating back to its founding in the 9th century by Alfred the Great. The University of Oxford was the first university in the English-speaking world with teaching beginning in 1096, possibly earlier. Residence halls became a part of the University in the 13th century due to unrest between the townspeople and students of Oxford. Women have been admitted to the University since 1920 although not until 1974 have all of its colleges accepted women. Today Oxford has its strengths in the humanities as well as natural and applied sciences. Famous Oxonians are many and include Stephen Hawking, Rowan Atkinson, T S Eliot, Oscar Wilde, Robert Hooke, Sir Christopher Wren, John Donne... the list goes on.

While in Oxford, consider stopping by the Eagle and Child Pub, a popular meeting place for the Inklings writer's group that included Chronicles of Narnia author C. S. Lewis and Lord of the Rings author J.R.R. Tolken. Oxford student and later professor Charles Dodgson (also known as Lewis Carroll) worked closely and formed a friendship with the Dean of Oxford's Christ Church College and his family. Dodgson wrote two books with one of the dean's daughters, Alice Liddell, as the main character- Alice in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass. Today, the candy shop that Alice and Dodgson frequented and that Dodgson later mentioned in Alice Through the Looking Glass still stands as Alice's Shop. Christ Church College at Oxford has an impressive history that dates back to its days as a monastery in the 9th century to being a location for filming movies such as Brideshead Revisited, Harry Potter, and Alice in Wonderland.

From the University of Oxford:
Facts and Figures
A Brief History
A virtual tour of Oxford

The University of Oxford has 8 museums and collections: the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology, the Bate Collection of Musical Instruments, the Botanic Garden and Harcourt Arboretum, the Museum of the History of Science, the Pitt Rivers Museum, and the Christ Church Picture Gallery.

Here's a listing of the museums with a map of their locations in Oxford.
Another listing of the museums with a short video about 4 of them.

The Bodleian Library at Oxford University is the oldest of many Oxford Libraries and the second largest library in the UK (the British Library is the largest). The first Oxford library was housed in a single room at the University in the 1300s. In the late 1400s, Humfrey the Duke of Gloucester donated a large sum of books and manuscripts that would not fit in the room. Thus, in 1488 the new building, Duke Humfrey's Library, was opened. After being stripped of its collection to rid England of Roman Catholic influence, Sir Thomas Bodley rescued the medieval institution. A research library, the Bodleian is known to have refused to let King Charles I check out one of the books in its collection. By 1914 the Bodleian had one million books in its collection and today Duke Humfrey's Library is the oldest of the Bodleian Library's nine reading rooms. Read more about the history of the Bodleian.

History of Christ Church Library
About J.R.R. Tolken
About C.S. Lewis

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