Language & Literature

Explore literary treasures, everyday ephemera, and the complex history of the English language, with unique texts from the British Library.

Our new English Literature website, Discovering Literature, is now live: discover 1,200 Romantic and Victorian literary treasures, new insights by 60 experts, 25 documentary films, 30 inspirational teachers’ notes and more.

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Playtimes: A Century of Children's Games and Rhymes

Playtimes: A Century of Children's Games and Rhymes

Unique audio recordings and film footage of children's games from 1900 to the present day.
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Sounds Familiar?

Sounds Familiar?

Travel through the country in this website, and discover the UK’s rich landscape of diverse accents and dialects.
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Poetry and Performance

Poetry & Performance

Listen to well-known actors performing poetry by some of Britain and America’s most distinguished poets.
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Changing Language

Changing Language

See how the English language has been altered, expanded, subverted and experimented with for hundreds of years.
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English Timeline

English Timeline

Explore the evolution of English language and literature, from the 11th century to the present day.


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Dickens in Context

Dickens in Context

View rich original source material to explore the social and historical context into which Dickens’s novels were born.
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Books for Cooks

Books for Cooks

Rifle through six hundred years of recipes and remedies, from medieval potions and pies to 1920s cocktails.
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Texts in Context

Texts in Context

From recipes and adverts to logbooks and songs, explore the many ways in which language is used and produced.
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Dictionaries and Meanings

Trace the history of dictionaries, from scoundrels’ slang books to Caribbean lexicons.
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Literature Treasures Gallery

English Literature

From Shakespeare to Alice, take a tour of some of the British Library’s finest literary treasures.
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