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The final funds come via a legacy donation, marking the end of a two-year campaign to find the £2.25m needed to purchase the Fox Talbot Archive.

A significant grant of £1.2m from the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF) in December 2012 gave the appeal a vital boost. Further gifts from the Art Fund and numerous private individuals and charitable trusts took that to £1.9m.

Photographers Martin Parr and Hiroshi Sugimoto and artist David Hockney were among many well-known names to support the campaign. 

Richard Ovenden, Bodleian's librarian, said: "We look forward to making this fascinating and important resource available to scholars, students and the photographic community."

Polymath

Fox Talbot (1800-77) was one of the greatest polymaths of the Victorian age and the archive contains enormous potential for greater understanding of his scholarly activities, and of the influences exerted by the women in his family. It also includes artefacts such as glassware and artworks that Talbot photographed for his ground-breaking publication The Pencil of Nature, the first book illustrated with photographs.

There is a strong connection to Oxford as the archive includes some of the first pictures of the city.

Alongside items related to his pioneering work in photography, the archive sheds valuable light on his personal life, his role managing his estate at Lacock, his life as an MP, and his range of intellectual interests from science to ancient languages.

Exhibition

The Bodleian Libraries plan to run a series of public events to support access to the archive, including a major exhibition in 2017. Highlights will also feature in the opening exhibition for the Weston Library and in a number of smaller displays.

The archive will also contribute to the development of a catalogue raisonné of Fox Talbot's photographic work, a project led by Professor Larry J Schaaf. The goal is to make more than four decades of Schaaf's research available to a wider public audience online, and to invite scholars from a range of fields to add to the catalogue by contributing their knowledge and research related to Talbot's life and work.

Schaaf is also the founder and editor of the online resource which includes fully annotated transcriptions of more than 10,000 of Fox Talbot's letters at www.foxtalbot.dmu.ac.uk.