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The Younghusband Collection

The collection of books and manuscripts that forms the focus of the Tibet-Mongolia Rare Books Project was acquired during the 1903–4 British military mission to Tibet. This de facto invasion, mounted on the pretext of countering growing Russian influence, allowed its leader Sir Francis Younghusband to realise his own ambitions to break through Tibet’s policy of isolation and to enter the forbidden city of Lhasa. Also on the mission was Colonel Lawrence Waddell, a medical doctor with Tibetological leanings, appointed as the mission’s archaeologist. As the British attacked and stormed the monasteries and other buildings along the way, Wadell collected some 2000 volumes or ‘300 mule loads’ of religious books, a booty that was later distributed between the libraries of Oxford, Cambridge, the British Museum and the India Office.

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