Hugh Percival Wharton Gatty followed his father to St John's in 1925 to read history. After graduating in 1928 he spent time in Austria and developed a strong interest in German culture. He also had an enthusiasm for eighteenth-century art and literature. In 1936 he was appointed College lecturer in history, and in 1937 he became Librarian, allowing him to indulge his passion for the College's historical treasures. During his time as Librarian, which was interrupted by work for the Foreign Office during the Blitz, he improved its organization, arranged several exhibitions of its more interesting holdings, and ensured the safe storage of some of the most valuable items during the Second World War.
Gatty left several valuable manuscripts to the Library and over five hundred early printed books, including three volumes of incunabula. These cover a broad range of subjects including fine arts, gardening, social mores, eighteenth-century prose and poetry, and history, and include some finely illustrated and finely bound volumes. Gatty also had an eye for books with interesting provenances. Among the many interesting items from his collection are:
The books given by Gatty bear a simple book label in Latin. Translated it reads:
Hugh Percival Wharton Gatty, Fellow and Librarian, bequeathed this book to the Library of this College in the year 1948.