Old Library exhibition launch - Reading for a Perfect Society: The Renaissance Library of Sir Thomas Smith (1513-77)

Queens' Library warmly invites you to the launch of our latest Old Library exhibition, ‘Reading for a Perfect Society: The Renaissance Library of Sir Thomas Smith (1513-77)’ with a brief opening talk by its lead curator, Alexander Laar (who is currently nearing completion of AHRC funded doctoral research into Thomas Smith at Queens’ Old Library in partnership with New College, Oxford). There will be wine and nibbles and an opportunity to view the exhibition.

The event will take place on Wednesday, 13 March at 5.30pm in the Munro Room and Old Library. Places are limited so please sign up here

The exhibition will then be open on weekdays (1.30pm-4.30pm), initially from 14-28 March (as part of Cambridge Festival), and then from 15 April-2 May after which it will be available to view by appointment for the remainder of Easter Term. Access is via the first floor of the War Memorial Library.  


The famous library of Queens’ scholar and Tudor statesman, Sir Thomas Smith (1513-77), enabled his articulation of a practical vision of Elizabethan governance and society that retains deep resonance today. Smith used a complex system of annotation and doodles in his reading, enabling him to appropriate ancient Greek and Roman learning into his highly influential statement on English politics and statecraft, De Republica Anglorum (1583). The outcome of groundbreaking new research on Smith’s books in Queens’ Old Library, this exhibition reveals Smith’s humanist conception of the perfect society: responsive to competing claims of monarch, Parliament and populace, and far ahead of its time.