Our holdings range in date from the 9th to 21st centuries and include, in addition to rare books and manuscripts, prints and printed ephemera, personal and literary archives, drawings and artefacts. Rare and unique materials preserved here are of local, national and international significance, and the library is represented on the UNESCO Memory of the World Register.
Established as a medieval fellows’ library as part of Henry VI’s original vision for Eton, it is made up of collections reflecting the changing interests of Eton fellows and Old Etonians over nearly 600 years. The earliest acquisitions were mostly theological, and later purchases and gifts added large numbers of classical books and manuscripts, early scientific works, historical and literary texts, and books treasured for their beauty or antiquarian interest.
In more recent times the college has acquired modern and contemporary rare books and manuscripts, notably in the fields of English literature, travel writing, theatre history and fine printing.
What a wealth of material … from sketches of Roman antiquities to the George Orwell collection.Visitor
manuscripts, printed books, artefacts and files of literary and personal papers
- approximately 200 medieval and Renaissance manuscripts, including the Eton Choirbook
- over 200 incunabula (15th-century printed books), including a copy of the Gutenberg Bible
- more than 50,000 printed books of the 16th to 21st centuries, including the only known copies of more than 100 editions
- classical and other schoolbooks
- Armenian printed books
- 17th-century English pamphlets
- early 18th-century drawings after the antique
- important collections of materials by and relating to Thomas Hardy, Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Robert Browning
- literary and personal archives of the 19th to 21st centuries, compiled by figures including Edward Gordon Craig, Anne Thackeray Ritchie and Wilfred Thesiger
- materials relating to the First World War, presented to Eton as a memorial
The visit was wonderfully productive and more was accomplished than I thought would be possible.Researcher
- Enquiry assistance
- Imaging services
- Special collections reading room (open daily, by appointment)
- Loans to external exhibitions
- Support for teaching