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About Taking Liberties

We take our rights for granted. Free speech. A free press. The rule of law. The power to vote in those who make the laws and spend our taxes. And the power to vote them out.

Photo of the Taking Liberties exhibition

These rights didn't simply happen. They were hard won, the product of hundreds of years of debate, struggle, bloodshed and war. Many people died for them: heroes, villains, and some who were both.

Nor are these rights ours forever. They can be changed or removed, and at various times in our history, they have been.

The British Library's free exhibition 'Taking Liberties: the struggle for Britain's freedoms and rights' uncovers the roots of British democracy over a period of more than 900 years.

See iconic documents that paved the way for liberty and democracy, many of them rarely displayed, from Magna Carta to the Good Friday Agreement
Take part in our series of outstanding Event reviews with top speakers who address today's hottest political debates, such as human rights, ID cards, and detention without charge
Inspire your students with learning workshops on history and citizenship

Taking Liberties runs every day (except over Christmas and New Year) from 31 October 2008 to 1 March 2009 at the British Library, St Pancras, London. Entry is free.

Map and opening times

Two lavishly-illustrated books are available to accompany the exhibition, published by the British Library and available from our online shop.

More details

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Books, cards, mugs, CDs, videos, fridge magnets – buy now online