Review
Books

Caucasian collecting: the Bodleian Library’s Georgian papers, books and medieval manuscripts

The collection amassed by Sir Oliver and Marjory Wardrop

The Man in the Panther's Skin by Shota Rustaveli Courtesy of the Bodleian Library, Oxford

This book is about a family romance: of Oliver Wardrop (1864-1948) and his sister Marjory Scott Wardrop (1869-1909) with Georgia. Oliver first visited the country in 1884 (when it was part of the Russian Empire) and later became British Chief Commissioner of Transcausasia based in Tblisi. Both became passionate about all things Georgian, learning the language (at a time when women faced many impediments to any kind of higher education) and writing extensively about the country, its culture and its various political vicissitudes, including Marjory's translation of the 13th-century national epic, The Man in the Panther's Skin by Shota Rustaveli (shown here). On her early death, Sir Oliver established the Marjory Wardrop Fund at Oxford to encourage Georgian studies and to endow their collection of papers, books and medieval manuscripts, sacred and secular, which was donated to the Bodleian Library. As a result, the Bodleian is now the largest European repository of Georgian material outside Russia. This book also includes many photographs by the Wardrops of a Georgia that has long since vanished. It is published on the centenary of Georgia's declaration of independence.

  • Nikoloz Aleksidzez, Georgia: a Cultural Journey through the Wardrop Collection, Bodleian Library Publishing, 160pp, £40 (hb)