A distinguished collection of medieval and post-medieval manuscripts and topographical material.
About the collection
Some highlights from the collection include the 14th-century illuminated Biblia Pauperum, a number of luxurious books of hours such as King’s MS 7, an illustrated English genealogical chronicle from Adam and Eve to Edward VI, and Dr Samuel Johnson’s autograph draft of his play Irene.
Collected by George III and transferred to the British Museum in 1823 by George IV, the manuscripts were at first kept with the printed books but were transferred to the Department of Manuscripts in 1840. The manuscript maps, however, remained in the Department of Printed Books, and are now to be found in the Map Library as the King's Topographical Collection.
The collection is numbered King's MS 1 to King's MS 446.
What is available online?
Images of some King's manuscripts containing illumination can be found on the Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts.
A small number of the King's manuscripts have been digitised in full on Digitised Manuscripts.
What is available in our Reading Rooms?
The King’s collection of manuscripts can be consulted in the Manuscripts Reading Room.
Some items may require a letter of introduction.
Further informationUseful reference resources include:
- Sir George F. Wilson & Julius P. Gilson, Catalogue of Western Manuscripts in the Old Royal and King's Collections, 4 vols., (London, 1921), vol. III. With index.
- Elaine M. Paintin, The King’s Library (London, 1989)