The history of the English language is a tale of many different voices. This written word timeline gives an introduction to that story through fifteen diverse treasures in the British Library collection. The timeline provides a mixture of texts, some literary, others more mundane, ephemeral or functional.
No list of texts tells the full story - at any point in history there are hundreds of different types of language in play. For this reason we have included here myths, histories, dictionaries, recipes, adverts, maps, poems and plays. These texts will allow you to glimpse just some of the many contexts in which language is used, changed and moulded.