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Isle of Man Collections

The Isle of Man lies in the Irish Sea 60 miles west of Lancashire, with Douglas as its capital town. With a population of approximately 75,000 people, the island is a unique self-governing state, a British Crown dependency which has its own parliament, Tynwald. Over 1,000 years old, Tynwald is one of the oldest legislatures in the world.

A view of Castle Rushen

A view of Castle Rushen. A drawing taken from Sketches of Towns and Buildings in the Isle of Man. Add.27362, f.10 ©The British Library Board


English is spoken throughout the Isle of Man but the island also has its own language, Manx, a Celtic language in the Goidelic group with Irish and Scottish Gaelic. Manx declined in the early 19th century but more recently has seen Government activity to revive it: the language is taught in schools, a GCSE in Manx has been created, there are evening classes for adults. There are a small number of Manx language publications, radio broadcasts and websites.

Collections overview

The British Library holds a rich collection of items from and relating to the Isle of Man, including books, periodicals, official publications, maps and topographical images, music scores, manuscripts, stamps and sound recordings.

Because the Isle of Man does not come under the United Kingdom laws of Legal Deposit the Library actively acquires Isle of Man publications through purchase and donation. The Library aspires to maintain a comprehensive coverage of newspapers from the Island as part of its Newspaper Collections.

Lithograph image of Douglas

Lithograph image of Douglas. Printed music sheet, 1898. ©The British Library Board



Works about the Isle of Man, including archaeology, local history about the TT motorcycle races, and dictionaries and studies of the Manx language, are held by the British Library. They can be located in Explore the British Library.

The Tynwald parliament publishes many statutes, statistics and other government information. These are collected by the British Library and available through the Social Sciences and Official Publications service.

The Library holds the unique Chronicle of Mann and the Isles at Shelfmark:Cotton MS Julius A VII, f.31r illustrated below.

Recordings of Isle of Man or Manx speech are contained within the Library's Sound Archive, individual recordings being located via the online catalogue, Cadensa.

The Chronicle of Mann and the Isles

The Chronicle Of Mann and the Isles, (probably written in the 1260's) ©The British Library Board


A selection of Isle of Man images from the Library's historical collections is available for purchase from Images Online.


Broderick, George. A handbook of late spoken Manx. Tubingen: Niemayer, 1984 -1986. Shelfmark: P.P. (1) {Bd.3-5]

Keen, John Joseph. English-Manx pronouncing dictionary. Ilkley, Yorkshire: Scolar Press for Yn Cheshagnt Ghailckagh, Douglas, 1978. Shelfmark: X.950/6980

David Wright. One hundred years of the Isle of man TT: a century of motorcycle racing. Ramsbury: Crowood, 2007. Shelfmark: YC.2007.b.1911

Connery Chappell. Island of Barbed wire. An account of the Manx Camps. London. Robert Hale, 2005. Shelfmark: YC.2008.a.3718

Derek Winterbottom. Profile of the Isle of Man: a concise history. Isle of Man: Lily Publications, 2007. Shelfmark: YD.2008.a.331

Broderick, George. A Dictionary of Manx Place Names. Nottingham, English Place-Name Society, 2008. Shelfmark: YK.2007.a.14051

Isle of Man Official Yearbook. Douglas: Isle of Man. Shelfmark: ZK.9.a.9921


British Library Links
Department of Manuscripts
Explore the British Library
Sounds Familiar
Newspaper Collections
Philatelic Collections
Sound Archive: Cadensa Catalogue

External Links
BBC Voices: Manx
Centre for Manx Studies
Isle of Man Government
Manx Heritage Foundation (Digitised Bible and Dictionary)