Liberty in Print: John Locke, Thomas Hollis, and the Christ's College 'Two Treatises of Government'

Liberty in print poster

Curated by Christ's College Fellow, Dr Felix Waldmann, this exhibition explores the story of one of the most important books in the Old Library of Christ's College: political philosopher John Locke's personal, annotated copy of his 'Two Treatises of Government' (1689). The copy has a remarkable history: rediscovered by an undergraduate in the 1940s, it formed the basis of Peter Laslett's critical edition of the text, which laid the foundation for the 'Cambridge School' in the History of Political Thought - a movement led by the work of Quentin Skinner, a Fellow of Christ's, and Regius Professor of Modern History between 1996 and 2008.

The exhibition will trace the provenance and extraordinary influence of the book, including the content of its annotations by Locke and his assistant, Pierre Coste (1668–1747); the history of its donation by Thomas Hollis (1720–74), the republican bibliophile and John Milton enthusiast; the legend of its rediscovery by a young Eric Stokes (1924–81), the historian of colonial India; and the debate over its status as Locke's 'last word' on his own political masterwork.

The exhibition was open from 25 January until 26 April 2018.