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Bodley Medal

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Bodley Medal


The Bodley Medal is awarded by the Bodleian Library at Oxford University to individuals who have made "outstanding the worlds of communications and literature" and who have helped the library achieve "the vision of its founder, Sir Thomas Bodley, to be a library not just to Oxford University but also to the world". [1]

Description of the Medal

The medal's obverse shows the right profile of Thomas Bodley and bears the inscription 'TH BODLY EQ AVR PVBL BIBLIOTH OXON FVNDATOR', which translates 'Sir Thomas Bodley, Founder of the Public Library at Oxford'. The reverse reads 'R P LITERARIAE AETERNITAS', which means 'The Eternity of the Republic of Letters'. It shows a female figure, probably representing the Republic of Letters, bearing a head in each hand. The medal is signed 'Warin' on the obverse.


The original medal was engraved in 1646 to honor Sir Thomas Bodley who rebuilt the first public library at Oxford in 1602, now called the Bodleian Library. It was designed by Claude Warin, a leading medal-maker of the seventeenth century. Library accounts for 1646 contain an entry - 'Item, to ye painter that drew Sir Thomas Bodley's picture, and to Mr. Warren that made his medale, to each of them 2s'. The original medal is gilt, probably on bronze. In 2002, on the quatercentenary anniversary of the Bodleian Library, the copper metal saved from a renovation of the library's original roof was given to the Royal Mint to create a limited set of replicas of the original medal. [2] After a hiatus of nearly 400 years, the library started granting awards of the Bodley Medal, beginning with Sir Tim Berners-Lee (inventor of the world wide web), Baroness P.D. James (author), and Sir Rupert Murdoch, (Chairman of the News Corporation).


As of 2013, the restruck Bodley Medal has been awarded to only 15 individuals.

Eminent Laureates of the Bodley Medal
Year Name
2013 Hilary Mantel (author)
2012 Peter Carey[3] (author)
2008 Alan Bennett (author and actor)
2005 Carl Pforzheimer III (businessman and philanthropist)
Helmut Friedlaender (businessman and philanthropist)
William Scheide (scholar)
2004 Lord Richard Attenborough (film director)
Professor Seamus Heaney (poet)
Sir Thomas Stoppard (playwright and screen writer)
2003 Pat Mitchell (President & CEO of Public Broadcasting Service)
Dr. Oliver Sacks (physician and writer)
Dr. John Warnock (Co-founder of Adobe Systems)
2002 Sir Tim Berners-Lee (inventor of the World Wide Web)
Baroness P. D. James (novelist)
Sir Rupert Murdoch (Chairman of the News Corporation)


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