The Radcliffe Camera is one of the most celebrated buildings in Britain. Named for the physician John Radcliffe—who directed a large part of his fortune to its realization at the heart of the University of Oxford in the early eighteenth century—the circular library is instantly recognizable, its great dome rising amidst the gothic spires of the university.
Drawing on maps, plans, photographs, and drawings, Dr Radcliffe’s Library tells the fascinating story of the building’s creation over more than thirty years. Early designs for the Radcliffe Camera were drawn by the brilliant architect Nicholas Hawksmoor, who conceived the shape so recognizable today: a great rotunda topped by the University of Oxford’s only dome. From there, it would take decades to acquire and clear the site between the University Church of St Mary’s and the Bodleian. After Hawksmoor’s death, the project was taken on by the Scottish architect James Gibbs who refined the design and supervised the library’s construction.
Published to accompany an exhibition opening in November at the Bodleian Library, Dr Radcliffe’s Library tells the fascinating story of the making of this architectural masterpiece.