Graeco-Roman antiquity, from the middle for the 2nd millennium BC into the end of the century AD that is 6th.

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Graeco-Roman antiquity, from the middle for the 2nd millennium BC into the end of the century AD that is 6th.

Medieval and early modern Britain

British historical and manuscripts that are literary 600–1600

Modern history that is british

British history from 1600 to the current

Contemporary Britain

Collections reflecting contemporary British society and culture

Literature and drama

Collections relating to literature that is english British theatre

The British Library collection of maps, plans and views is just one of the largest in the global world, numbering some 4.5 million

The British Library has a world-famous collection of music

Arts and humanities

Collections for the study of history, culture and society

Social sciences

Research resources on politics, economics, law, sociology along with other subjects.

Digital scholarship

Undertake innovative research with our digital collections and data

Law and legal studies

Historical and current resources for the analysis of law, legislation and society

Genealogy and family history

Primary sources and reference material for family history and genealogy research

Manuscripts Reading Room

The Manuscripts Reading Room could be the enquiry point for the Library’s western language manuscript collections (for example. authored by hand, not printed). The collection includes literary, historical manuscripts and private papers.

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

A number of our manuscripts may require a Letter of Introduction, or might have other Access Conditions.

We offer free Discovery and 1-2-1 Sessions to help you result in the best use of this Library’s collections.

The manuscripts Reference Team for enquiries, please contact

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 examining plays on his behalf since 1849. Donne was aimed at his job and.

James Knight’s “History of Jamaica”

We have been delighted to help writing college essays generally share this blog by Jamie Gemmell. Jamie is a third year undergraduate at the University of Edinburgh and was awarded a Carnegie Vacation Scholarship to produce a partial digital edition of James Knight’s “History of Jamaica”.

New Anglo-Saxon acquisition on display

Earlier in 2010, the British Library was delighted to get a leaf of an Anglo-Saxon benedictional (a service book employed by a bishop). At that time we stated 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 may 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 experience Rome from afar.

Exploring the working lifetime of a twentieth-century scientist through the archive of John Maynard Smith.

AHRC Innovation Placement Fellow

Investigating constructions of identity into the works and archive regarding the writer Ruth Prawer Jhabvala.

The British Library houses among the world’s greatest collections of illuminated manuscripts, and Janet Backhouse has drawn on this rich resource to make a selection of outstanding examples that span over 800 several years of medieval book production.


A History associated with Book in 100 Books (hardback)

From inscriptions on tombs to your first writings on papyrus; from scrolls to your 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.

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