Histories

The following histories of Queens’ College have been published:

The History of the Queens’ College of St Margaret and St Bernard in the University of Cambridge, by William George Searle

Published by the Cambridge Antiquarian Society in two volumes:

  • Volume 1, 1446–​1560, Octavo Publications No IX, in 1867;
  • Volume 2, 1560–​1662, Octavo Publications No XIII, in 1871.

The two volumes are often found bound together. It was never completed: further volumes were planned, and some preparatory manuscript work for them is preserved in the Old Library. The two published volumes were an antiquarian-style history: strictly chronological, authorities carefully referenced, and with many original documents transcribed and published for the first time. The latter alone made this work widely referenced by later writers.

The drawbacks of Searle’s history are:

  • it stops at 1662, so that now the later periods of the college’s history are nowhere near so well documented as the first two centuries were;
  • the author assumes that the reader is fluent in Latin: long documents are transcribed in their original Latin with no translation offered;
  • there is no Index.

The Queen’s College of S. Margaret and S. Bernard (1448–1898), by John Willis Clark

A very short, four page, account of the foundation of the college, and its buildings. This was written for the celebrations of the 450th anniversary of the foundation of the college in 1898. The original is very rare: this copy has been re-typeset in emulation of the original. An original is available in Cambridge University Library as item 49 in Cambridge Pamphlets, Folio Series Vol. 1, classmark Cam.a.500.1.

The Queens’ College of St Margaret and St Bernard in the University of Cambridge, by Joseph Henry Gray

This was first published in 1899, in a series of College Histories published by F. E. Robinson. After some delay, the author was able to reclaim the copyright and publish a new, updated, edition in 1926. It is written for popular consumption, and would perhaps be found wanting by professional historians today. It has some value for documenting events of the 19th century which were within living memory when this work was being written: memories which have not survived anywhere else.

A Pictorial History of the Queen’s College of Saint Margaret and Saint Bernard, commonly called Queens’ College Cambridge, 1448–​1948, by Archibald Douglas Browne & Charles Theodore Seltman.

Archie Browne (1889–​1977) was a Fellow in Engineering. This volume arose from his hobby of collecting prints and early photographs of the college. As part of the 1948 quincentenary celebrations, his collection was assembled into a book, with further photographs commissioned to illustrate the then present condition of the college, and published in 1951. Each spread had an image on the right, with descriptive text on the left. Despite the title of the book, it is in no way a history of the college: the text does no more than describe the picture opposite and provide relevant background information. The text is littered with errors, some of which have unfortunately been propagated in later publications, and many of the dates assigned to the pictures are wrong. It is, however, outstandingly comprehensive in its collection of early prints of the college, with very few omitted.

Queens’ College, by R.G.D. Laffan (1887–​1972)

This thumbnail sketch of a history was published in 1959 as part of A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 3, the City and University of Cambridge (The Victoria History), in pages 408–​15. It has some value in its analysis of consitutional and statutory reforms, and in recording some 20th century changes. The material seems to have been written some years before publication, perhaps around 1953.

The Queens’ College of Saint Margaret and Saint Bernard, commonly known as Queens’ College in the University of Cambridge: a brief illustrated history, by Maurice Meynell Scarr

This illustrated pamphlet (12 pages) was published by the college in 1983, with its target demographic being the tourist visitors: it was on sale in the college shop. The text was a summary re-working of the earlier histories by Gray and Browne & Seltman, but brought up-to-date with descriptions of the later college buildings.

A History of Queens’ College, Cambridge, 1448–​1986, by John Twigg

Published in 1987, this is more a social history than a chronological story. Chapters are arranged by topic, rather than period. As its title says, it brings the account of the college down to 1986, including the period of student unrest 1968–​72, and the events leading up to the admission of women in 1980. It is written to the standards of modern professional historians.

Queens’ College Cambridge, by Juliet Chippindale

A new illustrated tourist guide booklet (44 pages) from 2012, with snippets of history and information about the buildings and other sights.