The Edward Worth Library

The Edward Worth Library
Dr Steevens’ Hospital,
Dublin 8.



Edward Worth (1676-1733) was an early eighteenth-century Dublin physician who left his library of c. 4,300 volumes to Dr Steevens’ Hospital, an institution of which he was a Trustee. The son of a Dean of St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin (John Worth, 1648-88), Worth had been educated at Merton College, Oxford, and later studied for his medical degree at the University of Leiden. It was there he became a fellow of the Royal Society. The impact of both the medical curriculum at Leiden and Worth’s interest in the Royal Society can be clearly seen in his collection which comprises printed works between 1475 and 1733, the year of Worth’s death.

His library demonstrates his interest in all areas of medicine and science in early modern Europe. His medical collection covers all the dominant medical philosophies of the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, with Galenic works side by side with texts on chymical cures. Worth was clearly particularly interested in the application of Newtonian concepts to medicine and collected a large number of commentaries on Newton. One area of particular interest to Worth was his section on diseases, particularly infectious diseases, where his preoccupation with the 1720 plague is evident.

Worth, like many other early modern physicians, was keenly interested in the study of chymistry and botany and his library holds a large collection of works in both areas. Equally, his fascination with mathematics. astronomy, physics, zoology and scientific instruments is obvious in a collection which explores not only the advances made by fellows of the Royal Society in these fields, but also the scientific publications of the Académie des Sciences and the Leipzig Acta Eruditorum. Worth’s medical and scientific collections provide an un-paralleled opportunity to explore a truly European library of early modern medical and scientific authors.

More information on some of these themes may be found at the following online website exhibitions:

For further information contact: or +353 1 635 2215. Catalogues accessible at:

Compiled by: Dr Elizabethanne Boran, Librarian of the Edward Worth Library, 2016.