The 10,000 printed books assembled by Richard, 7th Viscount Fitzwilliam (1745–1816), and bequeathed by him to the University of Cambridge constitute one of the most valuable historical and research collections in England. They are housed in the Founder’s Library, a room designed in the nineteenth century to reproduce a gentleman’s library and to reflect the varied interests of an eighteenth-century scholar, book lover, and art connoisseur. They include volumes on major figures and events in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century European history, engravings after works by the Old Masters, illustrated literature on travel and exploration, the natural sciences, the history of architecture, and antiquities. Augmented by twentieth-century gifts, bequests, and purchases, the collection also includes superb examples of early printed books from Venice, Rome, Mainz, Strasburg, and Paris, the 'elephant' edition of John James Audubon’s The Birds of America (1827–30), and, among exceptional Private Press holdings, the complete set of William Morris’s Kelmscott Press books, including his celebrated Chaucer.
All the Museum’s printed books are catalogued on the University of Cambridge's Library Catalogue. Select Fitzwilliam Museum from the dropdown list headed All Libraries.