Bodley Medal

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The Bodley Medal is awarded by the Bodleian Library at Oxford University to individuals who have made "outstanding contributions ... to the worlds of communications and literature" and who have helped the library achieve "the vision of its founder, Sir Thomas Bodley, to be a library not just to Oxford University but also to the world".[1]

Description of the Medal[edit]

The medal's obverse shows the right profile of Thomas Bodley and bears the Latin inscription "TH BODLY EQ AVR PVBL BIBLIOTH OXON FVNDATOR", which translates "Sir Thomas Bodley, Founder of the Public Library at Oxford". The reverse reads "R P LITERARIAE AETERNITAS", which means "The Eternity of the Republic of Letters". It shows a female figure, probably representing the Republic of Letters, bearing a head in each hand. The medal is signed "Warin" on the obverse.


The original medal was engraved in 1646 to honour Sir Thomas Bodley who rebuilt the first public library at Oxford in 1602, now called the Bodleian Library. It was designed by Claude Warin, a leading medal-maker of the seventeenth century. Library accounts for 1646 contain the following entry: "Item, to ye painter that drew Sir Thomas Bodley's picture, and to Mr. Warren that made his medale, to each of them 2s". The original medal is gilt, probably on bronze. In 2002, on the 400th anniversary of the Bodleian Library, the copper metal saved from a renovation of the library's original roof was given to the Royal Mint to create a set of one hundred replicas of the original medal.[2][3] After a hiatus of nearly 400 years, the library started granting awards of the Bodley Medal, beginning with Sir Tim Berners-Lee (inventor of the World Wide Web), Baroness P.D. James (author), and Sir Rupert Murdoch (Chairman of News Corporation).


As of 2019, the restruck Bodley Medal has been awarded to only 27 individuals.

Eminent Laureates of the Bodley Medal
Year Name
2019 Amartya Sen (economist and philosopher)[4]
Sir Kazuo Ishiguro (novelist)[5][6]
2018 Claire Tomalin (biographer and journalist)[7][8]
2017 William Boyd (novelist and screenwriter)[9]
2016 Professor Mary Beard, (classicist)[10]
Dame Maggie Smith (actress)[11]
Christopher Tolkien (book editor)[12]
2015 Sir David Attenborough (naturalist)[13][14]
Stephen Hawking (theoretical physicist)[13][14]
Jim Eyre (architect)[15][16]
Sir Nicholas Hytner (theatre and film director)[17][18]
2014 Ian McEwan (author)[19]
2013 Hilary Mantel (author)[20]
2012 Peter Carey (author)[21][22]
2008 Alan Bennett (author and actor)
2005 Carl Pforzheimer III (businessman and philanthropist)
Helmut Friedlaender (businessman and philanthropist)
William Scheide (scholar)
2004 Lord Richard Attenborough (film director)
Professor Seamus Heaney (poet)
Sir Thomas Stoppard (playwright and screenwriter)
2003 Pat Mitchell (president & CEO of Public Broadcasting Service)
Dr. Oliver Sacks (physician and writer)
Dr. John Warnock (co-founder of Adobe Systems)
2002 Sir Tim Berners-Lee (inventor of the World Wide Web)
Baroness P. D. James (novelist)
Sir Rupert Murdoch (chairman of News Corporation)


  1. ^ Reg Carr (13 November 2003). "Speech of welcome at the Bodleian Library's San Francisco dinner". Oxford University. Retrieved 28 September 2009.
  2. ^ Carr, Reg (2007). The Academic Research Library in a Decade of Change. Burlington: Elsevier Science. pp. 145–146. ISBN 9781780630991.
  3. ^ Reg Carr (22 November 2004). "Speech of Welcome to the Bodley Medal Event". University of Oxford. Retrieved 28 September 2009.
  4. ^ "Economist Amartya Sen awarded Bodley Medal". Bodleian Libraries. Retrieved 28 March 2019.
  5. ^ "Novelist Sir Kazuo Ishiguro awarded Bodley Medal". Bodleian Libraries. Retrieved 23 April 2019.
  6. ^ Hughes, Tim (8 April 2019). "Oxford Literary Festival brings out the stars". Oxford Mail. Retrieved 23 April 2019.
  7. ^ Wagner, Erica (9 March 2018). "Writer Claire Tomalin: 'You begin to see certain patterns'". FT. Retrieved 14 March 2018.
  8. ^ Wood, Heloise (4 December 2018). "Ishiguro to be awarded Bodley Medal". Retrieved 12 December 2018.
  9. ^ Grant, Peter (28 December 2016). "Top author to receive Bodleian Library's top honour at Oxford Literary Festival". The Oxford Times. Retrieved 4 January 2017.
  10. ^ "Mary Beard joins list of famous names including Stephen Hawking and Hilary Mantel to receive Bodleian Libraries medal". Oxford Mail. 22 February 2016. Retrieved 24 February 2016.
  11. ^ "Dame Maggie Smith open Bodleians Libraries' Shakespeare's Dead exhibition". 29 April 2016. Retrieved 6 July 2017.
  12. ^ Onwuemezi, Natasha (31 October 2016). "Christopher Tolkien awarded the Bodley Medal". Retrieved 3 November 2016.
  13. ^ a b "Contemporary geniuses Stephen Hawking and David Attenborough open Bodleian's Marks of Genius exhibition at newly renovated Weston Library". University of Oxford. 3 March 2015. Retrieved 23 March 2015.
  14. ^ a b "Hawking opens geniuses exhibition". Oxford Mail. Press Association. 21 March 2015. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  15. ^ Mark, Laura (5 February 2015). "Jim Eyre becomes first architect to receive Bodley Medal". Architects' Journal. EMAP. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  16. ^ "Architect Jim Eyre awarded Bodley Medal". University of Oxford. 3 February 2015. Retrieved 26 February 2015.
  17. ^ Oliver, Matt (28 March 2015). "His Dark Materials author set for 20th anniversary quizzing at literary festival". The Oxford Times. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  18. ^ "National Theatre Director Nicholas Hytner awarded Bodley's Medal". University of Oxford. 27 March 2015. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  19. ^ Hartford, Maggie (13 February 2014). "Festival lines up literary legends". York Press. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  20. ^ "Hilary Mantel to receive Bodley Medal at Oxford Literary Festival". BBC News. 20 February 2013. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  21. ^ "Writer Peter Carey to be awarded Bodley Medal". University of Oxford. 21 March 2012. Retrieved 21 February 2013.
  22. ^ Allen, Katie (21 March 2012). "Carey to receive Bodley Medal". The Bookseller. Retrieved 5 September 2015.