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.
excuse the scrawl


Current exhibition

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

libraryAn exhibition displaying the letters of people of letters. From authors to authors, from writers to publishers, from illustrators to poets, there is a wealth of literary correspondence in the Library. Whether it's Agatha Christie describing the effects of various poisons, J.R.R Tolkien on the practicalities and politics of getting a position as a Fellow at Oxford, W.B. Yeats on promoting Irish literature, Spike Milligan compiling a 'Crossword for idiots', Edward Ardizzone providing rough sketches illustrations, or Noni Jabavu remembering the Bloomsbury Set in a way they might not have appreciated, many aspects of literary life and interest are represented here. Philip Larkin, A.E. Housman, Kingsley Amis and Robert Graves are among the St John's alumni who appear, among many others.

Previous exhibitions  

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.

Visiting 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