The historic home of the Oxford English Dictionary.
OUP is world famous because of the Oxford English Dictionary, the most frequently quoted arbiter on the use of the English language, regarded by many as the ultimate arbiter. The press was started in the 14th century and gained royal recognition in the 1580s when Robert Dudley, one of Elizabeth I’s favourites and Chancellor of the University, petitioned the queen.
OUP was based for many years in the Clarendon Building. Its current home - in which books such as the OED and Alice in Wonderland were first printed - was erected in 1830. It’s an impressive, spacious neo-classical construction that many mistake for a wealthy college. Free tours around this building and its museum can be arranged with Martin Maw, the OUP archivist.
The museum tour explains the history of Oxford University's involvement in printing and publishing from the 15th century to the present day. It also features the Oxford Almanacks, accounts of the first printing of Alice in Wonderland, a 19th-century printing press and 17th-century fell types (metal letters brought from the Netherlands to revolutionise printing in the UK). Visitors can also access OUP's latest publications online.