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

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 associated with English literature and British theatre

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

The Library that is british has world-famous assortment of music

Arts and humanities

Collections for the 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 studies that are legal

Historical and current resources for the research 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 informative data on the shelves in regards to 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 the Reading Room via our Explore Archives & Manuscripts Catalogue

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

We provide free Discovery and 1-2-1 Sessions to assist you make the best use for the 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 death of John Mitchell Kemble, but Donne had recently been plays that are examining his behalf since 1849. Donne was specialized in his job and.

James Knight’s “History of Jamaica”

We have been delighted to share this blog by Jamie Gemmell. Jamie is a year that is third 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 season, the British Library was delighted to acquire a leaf of an Anglo-Saxon benedictional (a site book used 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 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.

Examining the working life of a twentieth-century scientist through the archive of John Maynard Smith.

AHRC Innovation Placement Fellow

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

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


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

From inscriptions on tombs to your first writings on papyrus; from scrolls towards the first bound codex books in Roman times.

Codex Sinaiticus: New Perspectives regarding the Ancient Biblical Manuscript

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