Libraries and the Reformation

 

Sir, – Eric Conway’s observation (October 14th) that “the great Catholic university libraries” of England “were vandalised” at the behest of the Tudors isn’t entirely true. At the time of the Reformation there were only two universities in England, and two university libraries. The library at Oxford folded, but here at Cambridge the University Library survived. We certainly lost a good number of our books, but this seems to have been more a matter of neglect of things regarded as obsolete (and of folk helping themselves) than anything more deliberate. Certainly there was no state-imposed purge of books, and we have operated without interruption since at least 1416. – Yours, etc,

MARK PURCELL,

Deputy Director,

Research Collections,

Cambridge University

Library,

West Road,

Cambridge.