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Whipple Library

Department of History and Philosophy of Science

Studying at Cambridge



This display includes a selection of books from the library’s special collections that have, at one time or another, been subjected to notes, annotations, or other such inscriptions by their previous owners.

Books attract annotations for many reasons. The author might be marking up their own book for future editions; the interested reader highlighting passages of interest or making notes to refer back to; the less-interested reader venting their opinions – via comments, scribbles, or doodles. The books in this display have been marked up by people both known and unknown, for a variety of reasons. Where the provenance is known we have indicated this, but often the interest lies in the types of markings and comments made, and not specifically in their author.

Fascinating and insightful as these examples of marginalia are, the Librarians urge you not to try this at home.