Harleian Library

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Harleian Collection)
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The Harleian Library, Harley Collection, Harleian Collection and other variants (Latin: Bibliotheca Harleiana) is one of the main "closed" collections (namely, historic collections to which new material is no longer added) of the British Library in London, formerly the library of the British Museum.

The collection comprises 7,660 manuscripts, including 2,200 illuminated manuscripts,[1] more than 14,000 original legal documents; and more than 500 rolls. It was assembled by Robert Harley (1661–1724) and his son Edward (1689–1741). In 1753, it was purchased for £10,000 by the British government. Together with the collections of Sir Robert Cotton (the Cotton library) and Hans Sloane (the Sloane library) it formed the basis of the British Museum's collection of manuscripts, which were transferred to the new British Library in 1973.[2]

The collection contains illuminated manuscripts spanning the early Middle Ages to the Renaissance. There are important early British manuscripts, many from Western Europe, and several Byzantine manuscripts in Greek and other languages.


A gospel book (Harley 7026); the last page shows the donor Lord Lovel presenting the book to Salisbury Cathedral

Among the most significant manuscripts are:


  1. ^ Laura Nuvoloni. The Harleian Medical Manuscripts (PDF). published by The British Library. Retrieved 2015-07-26.
  2. ^ British Library. "History of the Harley Library".

Further reading[edit]

  • British Library Journal vol. 15 (1989) is devoted to Robert Harley and his collections.
  • C. E. and C. R. Wright, eds. The Diary of Humfrey Wanley 1715–1726, 2 vols (London, 1966).

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°31′48″N 0°07′41″W / 51.530°N 0.128°W / 51.530; -0.128