Highlights of the Samuel Butler Collection

Samuel Butler as an undergraduate posing with three friends
Samuel Butler as an undergraduate (IX/Albums/5/13/1)

Samuel Butler (1835–1902) was a writer, artist and photographer, who engaged in many of the topical debates of his time. He published books on subjects as diverse as evolution, religion, art, travel, classical literature and sheep-farming, but is best-known for his novels, Erewhon (1872) and The Way of All Flesh (1903). Butler read Classics at St John’s, graduating with First Class Honours in 1859. This wonderfully enigmatic photograph, taken about 1855, shows Butler (centre) posing with some of his undergraduate friends.

In 1917, Butler’s friend and biographer Henry Festing Jones began donating his substantial collection of Butler’s books, manuscripts, photographs and possessions to the College. Almost a century on, thanks to a generous grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund for the Samuel Butler Project (2011-13), the collection has been fully catalogued and a number of key items have undergone professional conservation treatment.

This exhibition introduces some of the highlights of the Samuel Butler Collection.

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