Centre for Bibliographical History
Our Centre for Bibliographical History promotes
transnational research initiatives in cultural and bibliographical history.
Our research and teaching activities fulfil a critical local
and regional need in the enhancement of heritage management, rare books library coordination as
well as training in book history, librarianship and information studies.
Current research interest concentrates on the Albert Sloman library, the Samuel Harsnett collection, and Thomas Plume's library in Maldon.
The Centre was founded by Professor James Raven.
For further information about our activities, please contact Co-Director Dr David Rundle or visit
- To establish a centre with international distinction in bibliographical history, the history of books, bibliographical and information studies.
- To gain research grant funding and pursue pioneering research in bibliographical history, locally, nationally and internationally.
- To develop international networks of collaborative work in early modern and modern bibliography.
- To support study of the humanities, and in particular the existing study and teaching of the Enlightenment at the University of Essex,
with bibliographical research in ‘Enlightenment Networks’.
- To fulfil a critical and local need in the enhancement of heritage management, rare books library coordination and training in
librarianship and information studies.
- To develop postgraduate provision related to bibliographical history.
- To work towards the long-term establishment of a School of Library, Information and Bibliographical Studies, professionally affiliated to
CILIP (Chartered Institution of Library and Information Studies).
- To support the special collections of the Albert Sloman Library, and the Samuel Harsnett collection in particular, releasing the long-hidden research potential of the collection.
- To support the cataloguing work on the Harsnett Library undertaken by Dr Clare French in the Albert Sloman Library, opening up the collection
to scholarship and enhancing the reputation of the University.
- To provide a history of the book centre that is not tied to national boundaries and national units of investigation and gain external funding from a
wide range of international sources.
- To provide a forum for the discussion and dissemination of current work in the field.
- To build on the longstanding expertise and international reputation of the Department of History in cultural history by extending its reach to
bibliographical and book history and by developing further interdisciplinary connections and working relationships within the
Faculty of Humanities, the Albert Sloman Library,
and other departments of the University.
- To draw on the wider University and Essex, Suffolk and East Anglian community of scholars working in the field.
Lost Manuscripts and Books Reborn
Following an award of £17,000 from the University of Essex's "Seedcorn" research fund
we are working on an innovative digital humanities pilot-project to digitise
rare manuscript fragments found within the book collection of Samuel Harsnett housed in
our Albert Sloman Library.
The Library of Samuel Harsnett
Part of our Centre's core activities focuses on the Samuel Harsnett Collection
conserved and catalogued at our Albert Sloman Library. A report on the ongoing study of the Harsnett Library by Dr Francesca Galligan has been published online as part of our
Research Tools series.
Georgina is researching the nonconformist Taylor family of Essex and Colchester c 1750-1820:
- Isaac Taylor (1759-1829), the paterfamilias, was a distinguished book engraver and part of a community in London before moving to Colchester
- Jane Taylor (1783–1824) is best known as the author of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
The Taylor family letters and writings are extensive and provide an extraordinary insight into nonconformist literary culture.
Jessica is researching the representation of John of Gaunt from the fifteenth century to modern times, a study that will encompass book and cultural history, with comparative use of diverse literary sources. The study will explore the changing uses of, and reactions to, depictions of Gaunt and his associates, with particular interest in reception and the bibliographical invention of the past.
Helen's research concerns the ways in which the seventeenth-century clergy used and valued their handwritten texts, and how they viewed them in terms of memorial and legacy. Based around a case study of the manuscripts and printed books in Thomas Plume's Library in Maldon.
News and events
Visit the Essex Centre for Bibliographical History blog for the latest news, current projects and upcoming events.
Our academic staff
Our academic staff are internationally recognised for their expertise across a range of areas in history. Find out more about their research
interests by reading their staff profiles.
We are a leading centre for history postgraduate study at both Masters and PhD level. Become part of our active research
community and benefit from the expert teaching and supervision of our academic staff.
Our Research Repository contains an extensive range of publications by academics from our Department. Read our
historical papers and see why we have gained our international reputation for research excellence.
Lost Manuscripts and Books Reborn is an innovative research project based in the Centre for Bibliographical
History that aims to create a digital catalogue of rare manuscript fragments from book collections across the UK.