From early modern to Enlightenment: an investigation of provenance in the Hunterian Library
Issued: Thu, 18 Aug 2016 14:02:00 BST
This PhD project will commence in early January 2017
The project will examine the history, provenance, composition and use of the large collection of books amassed by William Hunter and bequeathed after his death to the University of Glasgow. William Hunter (1718-83) is well known not just for his major work in medicine, but also as a discerning collector of scientific, historical and artistic objects. His large library is also hugely important, not least because its 10,000 books and substantial number of manuscripts have been kept together, offering a unique insight into the collecting interests and intellectual range of one of the great participants in the Enlightenment. Around one-third of his books are medical related (some of the texts and papers serving as a working library, used for teaching and research), but his range of interests was much wider, covering natural history, numismatics, history, exploration and travel, fine art, literature, and current affairs. Since the collection survives nearly intact, and was well documented both by Hunter himself and by the executors who settled his estate, we have a unique resource for major interdisciplinary research. Detailed study of his library will not only clarify Hunter's place in the Scottish Enlightenment, but will reveal how he valued the study of the sciences and the humanities in the pursuit of universal knowledge.