The Radcliffe Camera is one of the most celebrated buildings in Oxford. Instantly recognizable, its great dome rises amid the Gothic spires of the University. Through early maps, plans and drawings, portraits, engravings and photographs this book tells the fascinating story of its creation, which took more than thirty years, and describes its subsequent place within Oxford University.
Dr John Radcliffe was the most successful physician of his day. On his death in 1713 he directed that part of his large fortune should be used to build a library on a site at the heart of Oxford, between the University Church of St Mary's and the Bodleian. Early designs were made by the brilliant architect Nicholas Hawksmoor, who outlined the shape so familiar today: a great rotunda surmounted by Oxford's only dome.
It would take decades to acquire and clear the site, and after Hawksmoor's death in 1736 the project was taken over by the Scottish architect James Gibbs, who refined the designs and supervised the construction of `Dr Radcliffe's Library', creating, in the process, an architectural masterpiece and Britain's first circular library.
Stephen Hebron works in the department of Special Collections at the Bodleian Libraries. He is a curator and the author of numerous books, including 'Shelley's Ghost' (2010) and 'Marks of Genius' (2015), also published by the Bodleian Library.