Anthony Wood's account of his life is one of the few written by university persons in the seventeenth century. It is full of information about famous people, including Christopher Wren, John Locke, the physician John Lower, the Catholic Ralph Sheldon, the mathematician John Wallis, and a host of Oxford heads of colleges, vice-chancellors and chancellors. It contains descriptions of the skirmishes between parliamentarian and royalist forces in the 1640s, the atmosphere of Oxford during the parliamentarian occupation, the return of King Charles II in 1660, the anti-Catholic movement of the 1670s, and the burning of Wood's own Athenae Oxonienses in front of the Bodleian Library in 1693.
Wood made more contributions to biography, bibliography, and the history of the University of Oxford and the city of Oxford than any other writer before the end of the seventeenth century. His descriptions and casual diary entries are bursting full of information about his times, peppered with entertaining social commentary. This is the first modern critical edition of his text, and is based on all the surviving sources in the Bodleian Library.