Institutional Collaboration

Mill Library background image

Acting at the suggestion of Liberal politician and writer John Morley, and under power of attorney for her aunt, Helen Taylor (John Stuart Mill’s step-daughter), Miss Mary Taylor donated the books from Mill’s house in Blackheath, London without condition to Somerville College, Oxford, in 1905. The roughly 2000 volumes increased the college library’s collection by about a third and included many books inherited by Mill from his father, James Mill, and some acquired after Mill’s death by Helen Taylor. Following their acquisition, duplicate copies and books deemed unsuitable for female students were sold; the rest were assigned Dewey classification numbers and dispersed throughout the library on open shelves, from which some (including Mill’s personal copy of Utilitarianism) went missing over the years. In 1969, the remaining books, now numbering just over 1000 titles in 1674 volumes and 45 unbound pamphlets, were reassembled into a Special Collection which presently resides in a locked second-floor room of Somerville College Library.