The British Republican Sir Thomas Hollis (1720-1774) donated more than 400 books to the Bernese Civic Library between 1758 and 1765. He selected them carefully from his own collection. As a man of considerable wealth he had gotten to know and appreciate Switzerland 10 years earlier during his educational trips. He intended to spread the concept of political freedom as cherished in England. Therefore Hollis donated a large number of books written in the spirit of the English Enlightenment to several libraries in Europe and North America, for example works by John Milton and John Locke.
The Hollis collection at the University Library Bern comprises 424 books predominantly written in English. The volumes of this bibliophilic collection are bound in leather. Many of them contain handwritten dedications and annotations by the donor.