Graeco-Roman antiquity, from the middle regarding the 2nd millennium BC towards the end of the 6th century AD.

Graeco-Roman antiquity, from the middle regarding the 2nd millennium BC towards the end of the 6th century AD.

Medieval and early modern Britain

British historical and literary manuscripts, 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 relating to English literature and British theatre

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

The Library that is british has 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 and other subjects.

Digital scholarship

Undertake innovative research with our digital collections and data

Law and legal studies

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

Family history

Primary sources and reference material for family history and genealogy research


Manuscripts Reading Room

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

  • Find informative data on the shelves concerning the Library’s collection that is british of manuscripts and those held elsewhere
  • Access online databases and journals that are electronic books associated with archives and manuscripts
  • Order collection items to your Reading Room via our Explore Archives & Manuscripts Catalogue

Some of our manuscripts may require a Letter of Introduction, or may have other Access Conditions.

You can expect free Discovery and 1-2-1 Sessions to assist you result in the use that is best associated with 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 following the death of John Mitchell Kemble, but Donne had recently been 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 with you this web site 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 this year, the Library that is british was to acquire a leaf of an Anglo-Saxon benedictional (a site book employed by a bishop). This manuscript was of great significance for at the time we reported that, despite its fragmentary nature.

Writing Wyatt

Have you ever wondered how a 16th-century poet gathered their works together? A writer with an eye to posterity could 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 lifetime of a twentieth-century scientist through the archive of John Maynard Smith.

AHRC Innovation Placement Fellow

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

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

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A History of the Book in 100 Books (hardback)

From inscriptions on tombs towards the first writings on papyrus; from scrolls to 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 planet.

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