John Radcliffe (1652–1714) was a phenomenally successful Oxford-educated physician who, in the words of his acerbic contemporary Thomas Hearne, had “little learning but … a great sagacity [and] he never had his equal by which he got such a vast sum of Money.” Radcliffe left the bulk of his wealth to his alma mater with the provision that the greatest part should be spent on building a new library in central Oxford, the remainder being set aside for a new quadrangle at his old college. The largest part of the bequest, £40,000 ($62,537), led in 1737–47 to the construction of the library now known as the Radcliffe Camera. Oxford’s first hospital, the Radcliffe Infirmary,...

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