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The British Library The Knowledge Network: The British Library Annual Report and Accounts 2008/09

Explore our year


A number of outstanding collections were acquired and saved for the nation during the year.

Photo from the Fay Godwin Archive


Fay Godwin archive: the archive of the celebrated photographer, who died in 2005, and was renowned for her black and white landscape photographs and portraits of literary figures. As well as the entire contents of her studio, the archive includes correspondence with sitters such as Ted Hughes, Philip Larkin and Doris Lessing.

Dering Roll: the oldest English roll of arms still in existence, the 13th century parchment depicts 324 painted coats of arms, representing a quarter of England’s barons during the reign of King Edward I.

Ted Hughes archive: an invaluable collection of manuscripts, letters and other material is contained in the archive of one of the towering figures of post-war British poetry. Of great interest are manuscripts relating to Birthday Letters, the poems charting his relationship with Sylvia Plath.

Parole in Libertà: A century after the founding of Futurism, the British Library acquired a rare book, made from tin, which was produced in 1932 by Italian avant-garde artists Filippo Tommaso Marinetti and Tullio D’Albisola.

Graham Swift archive: the archive of the acclaimed novelist contains manuscripts, revisions and other material relating to his eight novels including Waterland and the Booker Prize-winning Last Orders, as well as his collections of short stories and non-fiction.

The Communist Manifesto: the acquisition is believed to be the only complete copy of the first edition to be held in the UK, and the only one in the world in a national library.

Kodak Ltd archive: the company archives of Kodak Ltd span more than 120 years. They include documents and photographs charting the development of photography and make an important addition to the Library’s photographic collections.

The Macclesfield Alphabet Book: an appeal was launched to acquire the beautiful and extremely rare 'pattern book' dating from around 1500, thought to have been used by scribes in medieval Britain to produce luxury books.

Late 16th century German broadside: the large printed sheet has a portrait of Sir Francis Drake, one of only two full length depictions from his lifetime, and lines of German verse.

The Zweig archive: printed and manuscript material from the collections of the Austrian writer and collector Stefan Zweig and his heirs, complementing the Library’s renowned Zweig Collection of literary and musical autograph manuscripts.

Monteverdi letter: a long autograph letter from the composer Claudio Monteverdi to the Marchese Enzo Bentivoglio, dated 1627, the only letter of Monteverdi's to have been sold at auction.