Medieval and early modern Britain

British historical and manuscripts that are literary 600–1600

Modern British history

British history from 1600 to the current

Contemporary Britain

Collections reflecting contemporary British society and culture

Literature and drama

Collections associated with English literature and British theatre

The British Library collection of maps, plans and views is among the largest when you look at the global world, numbering some 4.5 million

The British Library has a world-famous collection of music

Arts and humanities

Collections for the scholarly study of history, culture and society

Social sciences

Research resources on politics, economics, law, sociology as well as other subjects.

Digital scholarship

Undertake research that is innovative our digital collections and data

Law and studies that are legal

Historical and resources that are current the study of law, legislation and society

Family history

Primary sources and reference material for family genealogy and history research

Manuscripts Reading Room

The Manuscripts Reading Room is the point that is enquiry the Library’s western language manuscript collections (i.e. authored by hand, essay papers to buy not printed). The collection includes literary, historical manuscripts and papers that are private.

  • Find all about the shelves in regards to the British Library’s number of western manuscripts and those held elsewhere
  • Access online databases and journals that are electronic books relating to archives and manuscripts
  • Order collection items to your Reading Room via our Explore Archives & Manuscripts Catalogue

Several of our manuscripts may necessitate a Letter of Introduction, or might have other Access Conditions.

You can expect free Discovery and 1-2-1 Sessions that will help you result in the best use associated with Library’s collections.

For enquiries, please contact the Manuscripts Reference Team

Blog posts

The Theatre Censors Part 2: William Bodham Donne

William Bodham Donne became Examiner of Plays in 1857. He officially assumed the role after the loss of John Mitchell Kemble, but Donne had been already plays that are examining his behalf since 1849. Donne was focused on his job and.

James Knight’s “History of Jamaica”

We have been delighted to share this web site by Jamie Gemmell. Jamie is a year that is third at the University of Edinburgh and was awarded a Carnegie Vacation Scholarship to create a partial digital edition of James Knight’s “History of Jamaica”.

New Anglo-Saxon acquisition on display

Earlier this present year, the British Library was delighted to get a leaf of an Anglo-Saxon benedictional (a service book used by a bishop). At that time we reported that, despite its fragmentary nature, this manuscript was of great significance for.

Writing Wyatt

Have you ever wondered how a poet that is 16th-century their works together? A writer with an optical eye to posterity might have followed the exemplory instance of Sir Thomas Wyatt (c. 1503–1542), poet, ambassador and rumoured lover of Anne Boleyn. In the.

Case studies

Exploring how the Anglo-Saxons used manuscripts to see Rome from afar.

Exploring the working life of a scientist that is twentieth-century the archive of John Maynard Smith.

AHRC Innovation Placement Fellow

Investigating constructions of identity when you look at the works and archive regarding the writer Ruth Prawer Jhabvala.

The British Library houses one of many world’s greatest collections of illuminated manuscripts, and Janet Backhouse has drawn with this resource that is rich make an array of outstanding examples that span over 800 many years of medieval book production.


a brief history associated with the written book in 100 Books (hardback)

From inscriptions on tombs into the first writings on papyrus; from scrolls into the bound that is first books in Roman times.

Codex Sinaiticus: New Perspectives regarding the Ancient Biblical Manuscript

Codex Sinaiticus is one of the most important books in the world.