Penned and Printed at Palace Green Library

Durham University has delved into its vast archives to showcase a collection of rare and early printed books and historic documents.

Penned and Printed, at Palace Green Library in Durham, features items from the shelves and strongrooms that stretch for miles beneath the city.

In three rotating themes, the exhibition brings together the spectacular and the humble, the local and the national – and ideas that would change the world.

The current themes explore medical progress (From Magic to Medicine), crime and punishment (From Retribution to Reform) and the journey to women’s suffrage (From Suppression to Suffrage).

There’s also a staff-picked Item of the Month and October’s is a handwritten account of the loss of HMS Athenienne in October 1806.

Other handwritten delights include an annotated French edition of a book by German physician and botanist Leonhart Fuchs Herbarum, published in 1549; a medical manuscript written and illustrated by hand in the late 1400s and a church court statement.

There’s also a letter from noted prison reformer and Quaker Elizabeth Fry to her cousin, Hannah Backhouse, who lived in Darlington, dated August 8, 1818.

Durham University’s archives are home to millions of historic documents dating back more than 2,000 years, including three Magna Cartas.

Its libraries also care for over 70,000 rare and early printed books, including copies of Shakespeare’s First Folio and the Nuremberg Chronicle.

Each year, less than one per cent of the documents and rare books are read by researchers. Some may lie waiting to be discovered for a century!

Entry to Penned and Printed is free and the exhibition runs until August 31, 2024.

For more information, click here.

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