Literary Landscapers: horticulture in the special collections

November’s blog post featured Philip Miller’s Gardeners’ dictionary (1731), collecting names and offering advice for his fellow gardeners. This month the Special Collections blog further explores the theme of horticulture in early printed books. In commodum ruralium, or the Ruralia Commoda, Pietro de Crescenzi, c. 1490-95. The Ruralia Commoda by Pietro de Crescenzi of Bologna... Continue Reading →


Your Guide to Christmas in 1884

It can be tricky to navigate the maze of gifts, food, entertainment, cards, and relatives that make up Christmas - how can you know for sure you are making the perfect purchasing decisions? This month's Special Collections blog post picks the best bits from the 1884 Pall Mall Gazette Christmas Extra Edition, which offers the... Continue Reading →

Words on Witchcraft

The late 16th and early 17th Centuries saw the peak of 'witch hysteria' in Europe. Paranoia surrounding ideas about sorcery and demons led to accusations, trials and cruel punishments, including tens of thousands of executions. This month's blog post explores the literature that fuelled this phenomenon: as texts that condemened or seemingly provided evidence for... Continue Reading →

The Texts of the Reformation

The 31st October 2017 marks the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s 95 Theses, a text that sparked the Reformation. The movement was entwined with the introduction of Gutenberg’s printing press, allowing the rapid spread of texts such as pamphlets and vernacular Bibles. As such, it is a historical moment of shift in terms of reading, writing... Continue Reading →

Scandinavia in the Special Collections

This month, we gather together a number of different items which share a northern theme: twentieth-century cartoons, seventeenth-century astronomy, nineteenth-century literature, sixteenth-century history, eighteenth-century exploration, and a seventeenth-century Bible. Historia de gentibus septentrionalibus [Description of the Northern people], Olaus Magnus (1550) ∑.2.14 Olaus Magnus (1490-1557) was a Swedish writer and Archbishop of Uppsala, and this... Continue Reading →

Abraham Ortelius, Theatrum Orbis Terrarum

In St John’s College Library’s Special Collections there are four copies of Ortelius’s world atlases. These were the first attempts at mapping the known world in its entirety which demonstrate a balance between striving for accurate cartography and presenting the wondrous elements of the distant world. Abraham Ortelius (1527-1598) From Antwerp, Brussels, Ortelius was part... Continue Reading →

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