Christopher de Hamel

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Christopher de Hamel, FSA, FRHistS (born 20 November 1950) is a British academic librarian and expert on mediaeval manuscripts. He is a Fellow of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, and Fellow Librarian of the Parker Library. His book Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts is the winner of the Duff Cooper Prize for 2016 and the Wolfson History Prize for 2017.

Upbringing and education[edit]

De Hamel was born on 20 November 1950 in London, England.[1] At the age of four moved with his parents to New Zealand, where he was schooled and attended university.[2]

He was subsequently awarded a DPhil by Oxford University[3] for his thesis on 12th-century Bible commentaries.[4] De Hamel also holds a PhD from Cambridge University,[5] as well as honorary Doctorates of Letters from the University of Otago[2] and from St. John’s University, Minnesota.


Between 1975 and 2000 de Hamel worked for Sotheby’s in its Western Manuscripts Department.[6] He was elected as the Donnelley Fellow Librarian of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge in 2000,[2] and elected a member of the Roxburghe Club the following year.[7] De Hamel delivered the 2009 Lyell Lectures at Oxford University on the subject of "Fragments in Book Bindings".[8] In 2017, his then-newly-published Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts was shortlisted for Waterstones Book of the Year 2016, and won both the £40,000 Wolfson History Prize and the Duff Cooper Prize.[9]

Published works[edit]

De Hamel has written a number of historical works within his field of expertise:[10]

  • Syon Abbey, The library of the Bridgettine Nuns and their Peregrinations after the Reformation (Roxburghe Club, 1991)
  • Scribes and Illuminators (British Museum, 1992)
  • The Book: a History of the Bible (Phaidon, 2001)
  • The Rothschilds and their Collections of Illuminated Manuscripts (British Library, 2005)
  • The Macclesfield Alphabet Book : a facsimile (2010) with Patricia Lovett[11]
  • Gilding the Lilly: a Hundred Medieval and Illuminated Manuscripts in the Lilly Library (Lilly Library, Indiana University, 2010)
  • Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts (Allen Lane, 2016)


  1. ^ "de Hamel, Christopher (Frances Rivers) 1950-". 2009. Retrieved 17 September 2018. 
  2. ^ a b c Heffer, Simon (2010). "Christopher de Hamel, Donnelley Fellow Librarian" (PDF). Pelican: The Magazine of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. 19: 8–11. Archived from the original (PDF) on 30 December 2016. 
  3. ^ "Fellows: Christopher De Hamel". Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. 2012. Retrieved 26 Apr 2017. 
  4. ^ Rocco, Fiametta (Aug 2016). "The Power of the Book". The Economist. Retrieved 26 Apr 2017. 
  5. ^ Having a doctorate from both Oxford and Cambridge makes de Hamel what Ghil'ad Zuckermann calls an "Oxbridge Paradox". De Hamel belongs to the rare group of people who hold a "pair o' docs" (sounding like "paradox" but meaning "two doctorates"), a D.Phil. (Oxon.) and a Ph.D. (Cantab.), from both Oxford and Cambridge universities (commonly abbreviated as Oxbridge) - see -->Biography.
  6. ^ "Dr. Christopher de Hamel Becomes Senior Vice-President at Les Enluminures" (PDF). Les Enluminures. 2014. Retrieved 26 Apr 2017. 
  7. ^ "Membership since 1812". Roxburghe Club. 2017. Retrieved 26 Apr 2017. 
  8. ^ "The Lyell and McKenzie Lectures". Centre for the Study of the Book, Bodleian Libraries. 2016. Retrieved 23 Dec 2016. 
  9. ^ Campbell, Lisa (16 May 2017). "De Hamel wins £40k Wolfson History Prize". The Bookseller. Retrieved 19 May 2017. 
  10. ^ "Christopher de Hamel". United Agents. 2017. Retrieved 26 Apr 2017. 
  11. ^ de Hamel, Christopher; Lovett, Patricia (2010). The macclesfield alphabet book : a facsimile. London: British Library. ISBN 0712358048. Retrieved 8 March 2018.