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Books and Benefactors

Uncover unexpected stories among the pages of precious books and manuscripts spanning a millennium, newly acquired through the UK Acceptance in Lieu scheme.

Momentous historical events, dubious legends, and the real-life characters who shaped our world today... These are some of the rich variety of stories told in this new display, celebrating the allocation of an eclectic group of rare books and manuscripts to the University of Leeds via the UK’s Acceptance in Lieu programme. 

The precious objects on show span a millennium and range from a Byzantine gospel book, through a rare text printed by Caxton, to a meticulously scribed early-20th century volume of decadent poetry. They carry the imprints and additions of the people who owned and used them down the centuries, and they also tell us something about the wealthy industrialist who brought them together.  

Sir Thomas Edward Watson was a contemporary of Edward Allen Brotherton, whose generous donation and bequest established the Library and Collection bearing his name at the University of Leeds. Watson made his fortune in shipping and coal in South Wales, became a High Sheriff of Monmouthshire and the 1st Baronet of Newport, bred pedigree shorthorn cattle – and also found time to amass an impressive library. Seven items from his collection are displayed alongside relevant books and manuscripts from the Brotherton Collection.