Books

Our book collection’s strengths lie in the 17th and 18th centuries and there are extensive runs of 19th century books as well.

Detail from Opera Omnia by Marcello Malpighi (London, 1686). Detail from Opera Omnia by Marcello Malpighi (London, 1686).

From the 1680s to the mid 19th century the policy of the Library was to acquire every important scientific publication. In addition, since 1661, Fellows have tended to donate copies of their own works.

The subjects covered by the collection extend beyond the main sciences to areas such as travel, expeditions and philosophy. Current purchasing policy focuses on history of science books, which place the major original works in our collection in their historical context.

The donation in 1667 of the library of Thomas Howard, Earl of Arundel, accounts for many of the books which predate the foundation of the Society. We also hold a significant collection of biographies of scientists from 1660 onwards.

We now focus on purchasing history of science books, which place the collection in their historical context. See a list of some of our most recent acquisitions here.

Many of the most important books were displayed in the ‘Treasures of the Royal Society Library’ exhibition in 2012.

Browse by classmark

Classmark

Description

A. Parlt. Pubs

UK Parliamentary publications, mainly 1950-2010

Astronomy

Books published 1650-1949

B. Acts/Bills

UK legislation, mainly science and education 1961-2003

Bibliog.

Bibliograpies for various scientific topics, 1703-2000

Biog.

Biographies of scientists

Biology

Books published 1660-1949

Blagden

Books from the collection of Charles Blagden

Chemistry

Books published 1653-1949

Coll.Biog.

Collected Biographies of scientists

Cook

Books by and about James Cook, 1773-1988

Early FRS

Books by Early Fellows of the Royal Society, mainly 1639-1859

Earth

Books on the earth sciences published 1670-1949

Engineering

Books published 1651-1949

Expeditions

Books published 1800-1966

Fellows in Fiction

Contemporary novels featuring Fellows of the Royal Society

Fine Bindings

Small collection of books with decorative bindings, 1503-1908

General Sc.

General Science books published 1653-1949

Hist.Astron

History of Astronomy published since 1950

Hist.Biol.

History of Biology published since 1950

Hist.Chem.

History of Chemistry published since 1950

Hist.Geol.

History of Geology published since 1950

Hist.Instr.

History of Instruments published since 1950

Hist.Maths

History of Mathematics published since 1950

Hist.Med.

History of Medicine published since 1950

Hist.Physics

History of Physics published since 1950

Hist.Sc.

History of Science (general) published since 1950

Hist.Tech.

History of Technology published since 1950

Hist.Travel

History of Travel published since 1950

Incunabula

Books published pre-1501

Instruments

Books published 1654-1949

Maths

Books published 1650-1949

Medicine

Books published 1651-1949

NCUACS

Catalogues of scientists’ papers from the National Cataloguing Unit for the Archives of Contemporary Scientists

Newton

Books by and about Isaac Newton, from 1672 onwards

Oversize

Large-format illustrated publications on a range of scientific topics, 1628-2000

Physics

Books published 1652-1949

Post-Incunabula

Books published 1501-1520

Roy.Soc.

Books about the Royal Society from 1750 onwards

RS Box

Royal Society publications from 1931 onwards

Tracts

Miscellaneous papers about science and scientists from 1480 onwards

Trave

Books published 1650-1949

Valvasoriana

17-volume set of the ‘Iconotheca Valvasoriana’, published 2009

Works

Publications by Fellows of the Royal Society from 1707 onwards

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