Taylor Institution

Taylor Institution

The Taylor Institute seen from the Martyrs' Memorial
Country United Kingdom
Type Academic library
Established 1845
Location St Giles', Oxford
Coordinates 51°45′19″N 1°15′36″W / 51.7554°N 1.2600°W / 51.7554; -1.2600
Other information
Director James Legg
Website Taylor Institution Library
Location of the Institution in central Oxford

The Taylor Institution (commonly known as the Taylorian) is the Oxford University library dedicated to the study of the European Languages. Its building also includes lecture rooms used by the Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages, University of Oxford. Since 1889 a prestigious Annual Lecture on a subject of Foreign Literature has been given at the Taylorian Institution.


The Taylor Institution was established in 1845, funded largely by a bequest from the estate of the notable architect Sir Robert Taylor (1714–1788). Modern European languages were not then taught at the University. (Not until 1903 were a Faculty and Honours School instituted in Oxford.) Since the Bodleian lacked space, the Taylorian was initially used to house things as varied as Stubbs's lectures on English history and the Hope collection of butterflies.[1]


The Institution and its Library are found in the east wing of a neo-classical building, constructed by Charles Cockerell to accommodate the Institution and the Randolph Galleries (now the Ashmolean Museum), located at the southern end of St Giles'. There is a building in Wellington Square which houses the Institution's Greek and Slavonic annexe.

The library serves, for the greater part, those studying for the degree of Bachelor of Arts, for the various Master's degrees, and for the D Phil. The contents of the building on St. Giles' focus on the Western European languages, most notably on the French, German, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese languages (including the South American Spanish language and the Brazilian Portuguese language) with a total of around five hundred thousand volumes. The Greek and Slavonic annexe consists of European languages found further eastward, including the Greek, Slavic (including Russian), Uralic, and Albanian languages.

The library holds many world-class collections. Its holdings in German start with Luther's Flugschriften, including the first edition of his Sendbrief vom Dolmetschen, and go up to contemporary German literature. Italian works run from Dante and Tasso through one of the largest collections of Guarini's seminal Il Pastor fido to Foscolo and Futurist manifestos. The Spanish and Portuguese collections contain early editions of Lope de Vega, Camoens, Cervantes, Góngora, Quevedo and Calderón. Russian first editions are well represented. The library's greatest strength, however, lies in its French holdings. Its collection of French Enlightenment authors stars the only complete collection in the world of all the French editions of Voltaire's Candide printed in 1759, the year of first publication.[2] The Taylorian also owns one of the only two known copies of the first edition of Benjamin Constant's Adolphe.


  1. Barber, Giles. "Europe in St. Giles'". Oxford Today. Vol. 5 No.1 (Michaelmas 1992). p. 12.
  2. Barber 1992, p. 13.

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