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January 29, 2008

World’s top private collector of rare English law books presents Tarlton Law Library's Fourth Annual Rare Book Lecture, February 21

Anthony Taussig
Anthony Taussig

The Tarlton Law Library at The University of Texas School of Law will present its Fourth Annual Rare Book Lecture, “Blackstone and His Contemporaries,” on Thursday, February 21, 2008, at 3:30 p.m. The talk features Anthony Taussig, a London barrister considered by many to be the world’s leading private collector of rare English law books and manuscripts.

The lecture, which is free and open to the public, will be held in the Law School’s Sheffield Room (TNH 2.111).

In his talk, Taussig will question traditional views about Sir William Blackstone, the English law professor and jurist who is best known for his Commentaries on the Laws of England. This historical and analytic treatise on the common law was first published in four volumes in the late 18th century and significantly influenced the development of the American legal system.

The lecture will be based largely on materials recently made available, especially Blackstone’s letters. In light of those materials, Taussig will review Blackstone’s work as a barrister and his transition from legal practice in London to a professorship of law at Oxford and then back again to the London bar. In particular, Taussig will scrutinize Blackstone’s handling of his most important case—the litigation over the preferential treatment granted to the kin of the Founder (Archbishop Chichele) at All Souls College, Oxford—and consider insights that case might provide on Blackstone’s legal skills.

Taussig’s collection of rare English law books and manuscripts is surpassed only by a small number of institutions in the United States and Great Britain. He was one of the collaborators on Dr. Katharine F. Pantzer’s monumental “Short Title Catalogue of Books Printed in England, Scotland, & Ireland” (2nd ed. 1976–1991), and is a member of the Council of the Selden Society, the learned society and publisher devoted to English legal history. A catalogue of Taussig’s legal MSS collection, compiled by Taussig and Sir John Baker, has recently been published by the Selden Society.

Taussig was called to the Bar in 1966. He is a member of both Gray’s Inn and Lincoln’s Inn, and, until his recent retirement, specialized in trust, tax, and real property law. He holds an MA degree in Latin & Greek language, history and philosophy from the University of Oxford (Magdalen College).

Taussig is the fourth speaker in Tarlton’s Rare Book Lecture series. Professor Michael Hoeflich of the University of Kansas School of Law presented the inaugural lecture in 2004, speaking on subscription law publishing in antebellum America. In 2006, Dr. Stanley Chodorow of the University of California, San Diego, spoke on law libraries and the formation of the legal profession in the late middle ages. The third lecture, held in 2007, featured Scott Pagel, a noted scholar in legal bibliography and director of the Jacob Burns Law Library at the George Washington University Law School, who discussed the literature of witchcraft trials in 16th and 17th century Europe.

Future speakers in the series will include, in 2009, Jonathan Rose, Professor of Law, Willard H. Pedrick Distinguished Research Scholar, and Faculty Fellow, Center for the Study of Law, Science, & Technology, at Arizona State University.

Related Link:

Tarlton Law Library

Lecture Contact: Melissa Bernstein, Reference Librarian, Tarlton Law Library, 512-471-7292,

Press Contact: Kirston Fortune, Assistant Dean for Communications, (512) 471.7330 or