Wren Library Collections
Trinity possesses about 1250 western medieval manuscripts, catalogued by M.R. James, many of which are available via the Wren Digital Library. Treasures include the great 12th century Eadwine Psalter from Christ Church Canterbury, the 13th century Anglo-Norman Trinity Apocalypse, the 13th century Romance of Alexander and the 14th century manuscript of Piers Plowman. Also contained in the collection of manuscripts are the Milton manuscript and the notebook of Isaac Newton.
All of the library’s manuscript catalogues, western and non-western, can be found here
The Wren Library houses 750 incunabula, the Capell collection of Shakespeariana, many books from the library of Sir Isaac Newton including his annotated copy of the Principia Mathematica, the Rothschild collection of 18th century literature, the Kessler collection of livres d’artistes, and over 70,000 books printed before 1820. The College Library’s online catalogue includes entries for all printed books.
In 2016 the library received the Crewe bequest of over 7,000 books. Further information on the collection can be found here.
Trinity College possesses an ever-increasing collection of modern manuscripts ranging from single items such as the manuscript of Bertrand Russell’s The Implications of the H-bomb or of Winnie the Pooh to large personal archives, for example the papers of R.A. Butler or Ludwig Wittgenstein. Most of our collections are now listed, at least in outline, on our online Modern Manuscripts Catalogue, which now includes links to images of some items. Some of our finding aids, however, are still in the form of paper catalogues and card indexes, which can only be consulted in the Library. If you would like to consult any of the manuscripts or if you need any further information please contact the archivist.
The college archive comprises records created and received by the college in the course of its business, together with records of the King’s Hall and Michaelhouse, the two medieval colleges whose sites and possessions were transferred to Trinity when Trinity was founded in 1546. The records include, among other things, estate records, domestic accounts, records of governance, and admission records. A detailed list of the estate records is available in the Library, together with summary lists for some other classes of records, but these are not yet available online. The quantity of personal information held about individual students is generally small. In normal circumstances most of this material may be consulted in person in the Library and copies can sometimes be made available. To ask a question about the archives or reserve a reader’s place, please contact the archivist.
Consulting Material in the Wren Library
If you have any questions about the Library’s rare books and manuscript collections please email: [email protected]
If you have any questions about the College archive or modern manuscript collections please email: [email protected]
The Wren Library is generally open to visiting readers at the following times:
Monday to Friday 9.00 am – 5.00 pm
Making an Appointment
The Wren Library acts as a reading room with limited places so booking in advance is essential. All readers, including members of Trinity, should contact the library in advance to book an appointment indicating the materials they would like to consult. A written letter of recommendation is required from an academic colleague, tutor, or another appropriate person supporting the reader’s need to consult original material. The written recommendation should be signed and include the name and professional status of the referee. All readers should also supply a form of ID with photograph on arrival at the Library.
To make an appointment to consult items from Library’s rare books and manuscript collections please email: [email protected]
To make an appointment to consult items from the College archive or modern manuscript collections please email: [email protected]
Photography of items is permitted under certain circumstances. Please speak to a member of staff before photographing any items and see our rules for photography prior to your visit.
It is possible to order high-resolution images of items in the collection. Please contact the library for further details.
The Library’s rules for visiting readers can be found here.