Portrait of Duncan LiddelDuncan Liddel left his library to Marischal College, Aberdeen on his death in 1613. Marischal College was a new institution founded in 1593 and Liddel's bequest, which included monies for bursaries and academic posts, was vital to the university's continuing growth. Although the exact number of books he left to the library is not known, 427 texts have been identified as belonging to Liddel, bound in 198 volumes.

Liddel was born in Aberdeen in 1561. At the age of eighteen, he left to study and teach in northern Europe, eventually settling in the newly-founded Protestant university of Helmstedt, the Academia Julia, where he taught mathematics and medicine. He returned to Scotland in 1607, where he practiced medicine until his death.

Many of the texts are rare and important but what makes Liddel’s books truly unique are his hand written annotations and glosses. Several of the books that he used in his teaching have extensive and complex manuscript marginalia. Others have long passages written on the blank pages that have been bound into some of the volumes. The most famous of Liddel’s manuscript additions is the copy he made of Copernicus' Commentariolus bound into a copy of the second edition of De revolutionibus.

As well as annotations, many of Liddel's books are signed by friends and colleagues, which helps to establish the network of scholars in northern Europe of which Liddel was a part.

This digital exhibition is part of a collaborative project between The Special Collections Centre (SCC) of the Sir Duncan Rice Library, University of Aberdeen, and the Herzog August Bibliothek (HAB), Wolfenbüttel. A complete catalogue of Liddel’s library is available here with links to digital copies of the texts held in the HAB and to details of the Liddel copy held in Aberdeen.