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Consisting of approximately 8000 items, the library of surgeon and bibliophile Sir Geoffrey Keynes was acquired in 1982. Books range from the 15th–20th century, and reflect a variety of disciplines. However, the collection displays a particular interest in early books relating to medicine and surgery, and also to several English authors for whose works Keynes compiled systematic bibliographies. These include Jane Austen, George Berkeley, William Blake, Timothy Bright, Sir Thomas Browne, John Donne, John Evelyn, William Harvey, William Hazlitt, Robert Hooke, Henry King, Martin Lister, John Ray, Rupert Brooke and Siegfried Sassoon. A portion of the collection (primarily duplicates of modern reference works, but including much on William Blake, twentieth century poetry and fiction, and rich in provenance) was left uncatalogued when the collection arrived in 1982 and was catalogued between 2019 and 2022 by Liam Sims. These books are at the class Keynes.1-1643. A small portion of modern material remains uncatalogued, including a dozen box files of article offprints (largely duplicates of articles held in journals already in the Library's collection: both Keynes's own publications, on medical and literary subjects, and those sent to him on a range of subjects by authors), and couple of linear metres of modern booksellers' catalogues and other twentieth-century publications already held elsewhere in the Library. Anyone wishing to see this uncatalogued material should contact us using the Rare Books enquiry email.

Part of the collection is kept in the Keynes Room, which contains the original bookcases that were made for Keynes to house his collection. Please note that when the Keynes Room is in use there may be a delay before these books can be fetched.

References and further reading:

  • Keynes, G. Bibliotheca bibliographici. Privately printed, 1964. (Catalogue of 4,300 items in the collection. Omits reference books and recently printed books. Includes index of owners and donors, and short list of named binders.)
  • Keynes, G. The Gates of memory. Oxford, 1981
  • A list of books and manuscripts owned by Geoffrey Keynes in 1939 is available in the Manuscripts Department at classmark Add. 8541.