Thomas Gray: an anniversary exhibition

12 November 2021

From 8th November to 13th December 2021, the Ward Library at Peterhouse is hosting an exhibition to mark the 250th anniversary of Thomas Gray’s death, the 305th anniversary of his birth, and the 270th anniversary of the publication of the ‘Elegy Written in a Country Church Yard’. The exhibit has been curated by the Perne and Ward Librarian, Scott Mandelbrote.

The exhibition considers Gray’s life and work from the perspective of the holdings of the two Cambridge Colleges with which he was associated from 1734, when he entered Peterhouse, until his death, which occurred shortly after he was taken ill at dinner in Pembroke. It focusses on three defining themes in Gray’s life and reputation: his relationship with Cambridge and the effect on him and on his work of the friends and enemies he made at the University; his activity as a reader, in particular as a user of the libraries of his two Colleges; and the publishing phenomenon of the ‘Elegy written in a country churchyard’, his most significant poem and one steeped in his appreciation and emulation of classical tradition, as well as his sense of place and of English history and the history of English poetry.

The exhibition includes a number of items from Pembroke College. We are very grateful for their generosity and support.

Visitors are welcome during office hours, by appointment (email:

Thanks to Peterhouse PhD student Daniel McKay, we also have a virtual exhibition: