The volume was originally published in 1954, and was the work of a team of distinguished historians. It broke new ground, for although separate histories of the university and its colleges had been written, it was the first comprehensive scholarly account of all those institutions. The opening chapter on the history of the university from its 12th-century beginnings to the mid 20th century is followed by chapters on the grammar schools of the medieval university and on the architectural and institutional history of the several university buildings. The greater portion of the book is devoted to the histories of the colleges and halls, each of which is the subject of a separate article. The articles are precise and fully referenced, telling of such matters as the foundation and buildings of the college, its estates, its religious and academic history, and its outstanding personalities. The many illustrations include plates of old prints and drawings; there are also plans which carry forward the work of the Royal Commission on Historical Monuments. 'The book abounds in new and interesting information ... the result of research in muniments which have not before been so carefully and intelligently investigated.' (F. M. Powicke in English Historical Review).