Bodley fled with his parents under Queen Mary ( Bloody Mary) to Germany, and from there to Geneva and only returned under Elizabeth I. to England. He studied at Oxford, made long journeys and was commissioned by Elisabeth with missions to Denmark, France, Holland and several German courts.
1597 he retired from government service and went to Oxford to the reconstruction and expansion of the local university library (according to him Bodleian Library ( Bodleian Library) called ) time and wealth to dedicate. He was buying up rare and valuable plants in all countries, and should, some 200,000 pounds sterling spent; also he put in his will made a bequest to the salaries of librarians and supervisors.
Bodley reached in 1610 for the library also an agreement with the booksellers, according to which the library receives a free copy of every book published in England to this day. So already contained the library for a 1867 census about 350,000 printed books and 25,000 manuscripts, in 2000, 6.75 million books, 178,000 manuscripts and incunabula 6,500 to 173 kilometers book.