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Wine Writer Hugh Johnson Donates His Personal Papers to the UC Davis Library

photo of Hugh Johnson wine writer
Photo by Jon Wyand

English writer Hugh Johnson, author of the ground-breaking World Atlas of Wine, has donated his archive of 60 years of wine-book writing to the UC Davis Shields Library because, he says, “it is the greatest wine library in the world.”

The manuscripts and research papers now at UC Davis include his first book, Wine (1966), The World Atlas of Wine (widely recognized as the first significant attempt to map the world’s wine regions),The Story of Wine, The Modern Encyclopaedia of Wine, the autobiographical A Life Uncorked and Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book, published annually since 1977. The 40th edition is due out in October 2016.

“UC Davis was my first choice of a permanent home for my work,” said Johnson. “I looked around the world and it has no serious competitor as the world’s greatest wine library. I’m only adding a tiny drop to its collection of over 30,000 titles, but I would like students (and anyone else) to be able to see what I have experienced and recorded in the fastest-moving half-century in wine’s long history. My hope is that digitization will one day make it universally available.”

Johnson was born in London in 1939, the son of a barrister, was educated at Rugby School and King’s College, Cambridge (where he is currently a Fellow Commoner), and started his career as a feature writer for Condé Nast magazines. His archive includes articles for Vogue, House & Garden, The Sunday Times (where he was editor for wine, then travel), Gourmet, The New York Times, Decanter, Wine Times, The World of Fine Wine and other publications.

The archive of Johnson’s parallel career as a writer on gardening and trees (The International Book of Trees, The Principles of Gardening and Tradescant’s Diary, his published journal over 40 years), is housed in The Garden Museum near his home in London.

To learn more about Johnson’s gift and UC Davis’ world-class wine library, read the following stories from Decanter, Britain’s leading wine industry magazine:

For questions about the Hugh Johnson Archive, or to schedule a research visit, you may contact Special Collections at:

For information on how you can support Hugh Johnson’s vision for digitization of his archive by contributing to the Hugh Johnson Archive Fund, please contact Jean Flournoy Korinke, Director of Development, at


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