Exhibition on life of diarist John Evelyn showcases exceptional collection of books and prints

A new exhibition in the Special Collections highlights an ‘exceptional’ collection of rare books and prints from the life of 17th century diarist and writer John Evelyn, who lived and documented major events during his lifetime – including the last epidemic of the bubonic plague in Britain.

Evelyn lived in turbulent times, through the English Civil Wars, the Restoration, the Great Fire of London, the Bubonic Plague and the Dutch Wars – and wrote about his experiences.

The exhibition features a vivid collection of engraved portraits and illustrations, books and pamphlets on the 17th century, assembled by Mr A.B.R. Fairclough. In addition to engraved portraits of Evelyn himself - and of many of those people who were influential in his life - a 1706 copy of Evelyn’s most successful publication, Silva, is also on display. 

A number of other items are on display in the exhibition, including an engraving of Evelyn’s Table of Veins and Nerves; a copy of Athanasius Kircher’s Ars Magna Lucis et Umbrae from 1646; and a doctoral diploma from the University of Padua, where Evelyn studied medicine and anatomy.

The exhibition runs from 25 September 2015 until 29 January 2016 in the basement of the David Wilson Library and is curated by library assistant Margaret Maclean.

Entry to the Library is free but security controlled. Ask for admission to the Special Collections exhibition at reception.

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