The Autobiography of Sir Thomas Bodley
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with an Introduction and Notes by William Clennell
The Life of Sir Thomas Bodley, the honourable Founder of the Public Library in the University of Oxford, has claims to be the first true autobiography in English and also, perhaps, the forerunner of the modern political memoir. This new edition discusses the reactions of early readers and examines the circumstances of its first publication in 1647. It has been most famously quoted for the conclusion, "to set up my staff at the Library door in Oxford," which Bodley knew would ensure his fame. Bodley recounts his remarkable career in both academic and public life, informed throughout by European awareness, from his early education in Calvin's Geneva, through Oxford and many subsequent embassies in the service of Queen Elizabeth. As a self-justifying apologia, it is also of interest for the information that Bodley omits. It is written in a particularly fine classical style.