St John's College Oxford
Visitors are welcome to come and see a changing programme of themed exhibitions in the Old and Laudian Libraries. Historic manuscripts, books and papers from the collections are usually on display.


Current exhibition

Richard Murphy (1927-2018)Richard Murphy exhibition

The current exhibition celebrates the Anglo-Irish poet Richard Murphy, who died last year at the age of 90. While he was celebrated as a poet of “two traditions” (one inherited from his Anglo-Irish mother and the other from his Irish father) at the height of his renown in the late 1970s, Richard Murphy’s poetry goes beyond the confines of this Anglo-Irish tradition and Murphy was ultimately praised “as a poet who has traced the aftermath of great historical transitions: Ireland after Aughrim, Ireland after independence, and more generally, a world in which the hypocrisies of the British imperial project are entirely discredited.” (Benjamin Keatinge, ‘Richard Murphy’, The Cambridge Companion to Irish Poets, ed. G. Dawe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018), pp. 211-223, p. 221).

The exhibition honours the renowned scholar of Irish literature Professor John Kelly, Fellow of St John’s College since 1976. His work as the general editor of the prestigious multi-volume publication of The Collected Letters of W.B. Yeats, published in Oxford by the Clarendon Press since 1986, was marked by the exhibition Visited by All the Gods: Celebrating the Collected Letters of W. B. Yeats at St John’s College in 2014/15.

This exhibition would not have been possible without the generous donation of the displayed materials by Joseph M. Hassett, distinguished Yeats scholar and author of W.B. Yeats and the Muses (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010). The donation includes volumes with personal dedications to Dr Hassett and autographs of Murphy’s poems in several volumes as well as a framed typescript of the poem ‘Newgrange’ from The Price of Stone that is accompanied by three black-and-white images of the Neolithic monument. The exhibition will be up until 31 July 2019.

Find out more on the Library Blog

Previous exhibitions   

2018 'By herself': rediscovering the history of women at St John's College, Oxford: an exhibition exploring the history of women at St John’s, from its founding in 1555 through to the modern day.

2017 Stories from the Shelves: exploring the history of St John's Library and its readers

2017 "excuse the scrawl": literary letters from St John's College special collections

2016/17 Always something new: Africa in the Special Collections of St John's College

2016 Do we need pictures?:illustrations in the earliest printed books

2015/16 In the Like Case: a 17th-century medical correspondence illustrated with early medical books

2015 Not An Illustration: abstract book art in livres d'artiste

2014/15 Visited by all the Gods: the context of the letters of W.B. Yeats

2014 The Field of Human Conflict: war through the ages

2013/14 Alpha to Zed: a classical alphabet

2013 The Path that Sinners Tread: the seven deadly sins

2012/13 Revolutions: astrology, astronomy & astronauts

2012 Liturgy: sex, violence & prayer

2011/12 Something Rich and Strange: the exploration of America

2011 Catching Breath: language & writing

2010 Birds, Bees & Bonnacons: zoological illustration

Exhibitions are open to all members of College and their guests, and alumni with up to three guests. Members of the public wishing to see an exhibition should contact the Librarian in advance.

libraryVisiting the Library

Prospective students & members of the public
Prospective students are welcome to visit the Library during Library opening times. Other prospective visitors should email the Librarian to see if this is possible. 

Academic researchers
Academic researchers are welcome to consult material not available elsewhere in the University. Please contact the Librarian to check the item is available and to make an appointment. Graduate students should bring a letter from their supervisor. Visitors requiring special access should make this clear when writing. Please note that the permission of the College will be needed for publication.

Alumni and members' visitors
Members may show friends or colleagues around the Library, and should always sign them into the Visitors' Book at the Desk. Guided tours for small groups may be arranged with the Librarian. Alumni are welcome to visit the library during normal opening hours, and to bring their families and friends, signing them in as guests.

Library Posters