ATG Quirkies: The Bodleian “Phi” Collection of Restricted Books Sees the Light of Day

by | Nov 19, 2018 | 0 comments

Yes, it’s true! The Bodleian Libraries is lifting the lid on its collection of ‘obscene’ and ‘improper’ books in the first ever display of items from the Libraries’ restricted ‘Phi’ category. 

Need some background? Well, “in the Victorian age, the Bodleian created a restricted library within the Library. The librarians created “a special category of books that they thought too sexually explicit” for young impressionable minds. “These books were given the shelfmark Φ – the Greek letter Phi. Students had to submit a college tutor’s letter of support in order to read Phi materials…”


But they are restricted no more! A new exhibit explores changing ideas about sexuality and censorship as reflected in this unique collection. The Story of Phi: Restricted Books is running from November 15, 2018 – January 13, 2019 at the Bodleian’s Weston Library.


(Thanks, as always, to John Riley of Gabriel Books for providing ATG Quirkies)


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