The 400th anniversary of the refounding of the University of Oxford’s Bodleian Library was a moment in history that colleagues across the sea at Harvard could not let pass unrecognized. Finding a gift that was both a meaningful addition to the Bodleian’s collection and a symbol of the relationship between the scholarly communities of the Old and New Worlds was not an easy task, as “Bodley’s” collection is vast and deep.
But a rare edition was found that fit the bill – “Nouvelle Description de Blenheim, le palais magnifique du Duc de Marlborough dans la province d’Oxford, ornée d’un plan du parc, Jardins, &c, London, T. Cadell, 1791” – the first French translation of William Fordyce Mavor’s “New Description of Blenheim, the seat of the Duke of Marlborough.” The text was originally translated into French to illuminate the history and architecture of the Oxfordshire Blenheim Palace for foreign visitors; it was selected for the Bodleian because it symbolizes the important role English culture has played in Europe and beyond.
Nancy M. Cline, Roy E. Larsen Librarian of Harvard College, and Sidney Verba, Carl H. Pforzheimer University Professor and director of Harvard University Library, gave this special volume to Reg Carr, director of University Library Services and Bodley’s librarian, during A Celebration of Libraries, an international conference held at Oxford.
In presenting the title, Cline noted, “It was a challenge to give a library, whose extensive holdings have been growing for 400 years, a book that complements their collection and is not already a part of that collection. Through this book we celebrate our shared mission of supporting and advancing the teaching and research of our shared scholarly communities. It is given with congratulations on a distinguished past and with best wishes for a prosperous future.”