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Cambridge University Library


To coincide with our 600th anniversary, Cambridge University Library has released a free downloadable iPad app that allows readers to leaf through the pages of texts that changed the world, including those by Newton and Darwin, and the Bible that sparked the printing revolution in the West.

Words that Changed the World brings together six revolutionary books from the collections of Cambridge University Library and offers readers the opportunity to leaf through the pages as if they were holding the books themselves. See the minds of great thinkers develop the theories and concepts which form the foundation of the modern world.

These unique copies of world-changing books were previously only accessible to visitors to the Library: we are now freeing them to be studied across the world as we celebrate the 600th anniversary of our foundation. Images showing these books from cover to cover give the experience of handing these priceless works, while experts discuss specific points of interest via videos to enable the reader to further understand the texts.

Anne Jarvis, University Library, said about the app: “For six centuries, the collections of Cambridge University Library have challenged and changed the world around us. Across science, literature and the arts, the millions of books, manuscripts and digital archives we hold have altered the very fabric of our understanding. Our hope is that Words that Changed the World will encourage people of all ages to dig deeper into the works of great thinkers and provoke new ideas.”

The texts included are:

• Sir Isaac Newton’s own copy of the first edition of the most influential book in the history of science, the Principia Mathematica (1687) heavily annotated with his own corrections and amendments

• Extracts from the immense Gutenberg Bible, the book which began the printing revolution in Western Europe

• Charles Darwin’s family copy of the first edition of On the Origin of Species, the text which first proposed the theory of biological evolution

Andreas Vesalius’s 1543 Epitome, a stunningly illustrated anatomical textbook which changed for ever the way the human body was studied

William Tyndale’s translation of the Bible into English, an undertaking which led to his execution for heresy while enabling the English people to read the Bible in their own language for the first time

• William Morris’s own heavily annotated proofs of the beautiful Kelmscott Press edition of Beowulf.

Cambridge University Library’s 600th Anniversary has been generously supported by the Howard and Abby Milstein Foundation and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

For more information and to download the app, visit the Apple Store or click here.