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Pepys Library

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, access to the Pepys Library is strictly limited to those making research appointments. The Pepys Library is closed to all other visitors and non-resident Members. Research enquiries are welcomed via email, pepyslibrary@magd.cam.ac.uk.


Regarded as the jewel in the crown of Magdalene College, the Pepys Library is a rare example of a 17th-century private library. The Library is open to the public and visiting scholars.

The library houses Samuel Pepys’s original diaries and remains one of the most significant collections of books, manuscripts, documents and prints acquired by any private individual. Visit the treasures of the library collected over Pepys’s lifetime and still preserved in the original oak bookcases designed by Pepys in 1666.

Visiting and Opening hours

Information for individuals, groups and educational leaders wishing to visit the Pepys Library.  The Pepys Library is open at set times during the Cambridge University Full term and in the summer months.

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History of the Pepys Building

The exact history of the Pepys Building is unknown, and it remains full of puzzles. The building was most likely not completely finished until after the 1700s. The original plan was probably a more modest, all-brick building in two wings with only a skeletal link between the two wings.

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Samuel Pepys

One of the best known of all the graduates of Magdalene is probably Samuel Pepys. Pepys made his name immortal by his diary, he bequeathed to the College its greatest treasure - his library, a unique collection of 3,000 books and manuscripts, still preserved as he left it.

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Information for Researchers

Researchers wishing to use the resources of the Pepys Library, the Old Library or the College Archives must contact the Library in advance, outlining their academic and research credentials and their need to consult specific items in our historic collections.

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Catalogues and Research Tools

A guide to Magdalene College Libraries Catalogues and Research tools for browsing the libraries collections. A large proportion of the Pepys Library and Old Library collections can be searched online using the British Library's English Short Title Catalogue and Incunabula Short Title Catalogue.

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Photography and Filming

The Pepys Library has a substantial collection of images which are available to purchase for private use. Unfortunately, photography is not permitted in the Pepys Library. Please contact the Library for information on photography costs and permissions fees. 

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Friends of the Pepys

The Pepys Library houses one of the most significant collections of books and manuscripts in British history. Magdalene has an extensive programme of conservation to protect the collections and preserve them for future generations. If you would like to know more and help with the conservation become...

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Back a Book

The Magdalene historic libraries have aided scholarship for centuries, monitoring and professional conservation of the books, manuscripts and prints will ensure the items are studied and exhibited for years to come. You can be part of this preservation of history by 'backing a book'.

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Virtual Exhibitions

Welcome to the Pepys Library Virtual Exhibition page, offering online visitors the chance to view items from the Pepys Library special collections and to learn more about them. We will be curating our exhibitions around themes of particular interest in our collections.

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Old Library and College Archives

The Old Library is Magdalene’s collection of rare books and manuscripts which has evolved throughout the history of the College. The Old Library also currently houses the College Archives, which comprise the historical records of the College.

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