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May 27, 2009

Tarlton Law Library publishes Anthony Taussig’s Blackstone and His Contemporaries


As part of its Legal History Series, the Tarlton Law Library at the University of Texas School of Law recently published Blackstone and His Contemporaries. The publication is based on the fourth annual rare book lecture presented by Anthony Taussig in February 2008. Taussig, a London barrister, has collected an outstanding collection of manuscripts and early printed books on English law. In his lecture, Taussig questioned traditional views about Sir William Blackstone, the English law professor and jurist who is best known for his Commentaries on the Laws of England (1765–1769). This historical and analytic treatise on the common law significantly influenced the development of the American legal system.

The lecture and the publication were based largely on manuscript materials recently made available, including letters by and about Blackstone in Taussig’s own collection, and in the libraries of Lambeth Palace, London, and All Souls College, Oxford. A number of these manuscript resources are reproduced in facsimile or transcribed in the published volume. In the light of those materials, Taussig reviewed 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 scrutinized 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—to evaluate Blackstone’s legal skills.

Blackstone and His Contemporaries. 2009. Tarlton Law Library Legal History Series No. 10. 131 pages. $40. By Anthony Taussig.

To purchase Blackstone and His Contemporaries, or to find out about the other publications of the Tarlton Law Library, contact or Publications Coordinator, Tarlton Law Library, Jamail Center for Legal Research, University of Texas School of Law, 727 E. Dean Keeton St., Austin, TX 78705, (phone) 512-471-7241, fax (512) 471-0243. Or click on the Publications link on the library’s website at

Elizabeth Haluska-Rausch, rare books librarian & archivist at the Tarlton Law Library, (512) 232-3802,