Children's literature

Printed illustration of Alice in yellow dress and blue stockings holding a baby, on the cover of 'The Wonderland Postage-Stamp Case'; insert shows printed illustration of Alice holding a pig
The Wonderland postage stamp case designed by Lewis Carroll (1889-1890). Shelfmark: Cup.550.aa.14. © The British Library Board

We hold manuscripts and printed material relating to children’s authors from the UK and Ireland

About the collection

Our extensive collection of children’s literature contains many unique and rare items. Among our manuscript highlights are:

You can find more manuscript material relating to children's literature in the archives of:

Our printed collections contain monographs and periodicals published in the UK and Ireland and acquired by the Library through legal deposit. These have been added to by selective purchase and donation. The range includes:

What is available online?

Our Discovering Literature website includes images of children’s literature from the 18th and 19th centuries. You can also see images of manuscripts and books which featured in our exhibitions Animal Tales and Alice in Wonderland, including a fully-digitised version of Lewis Carroll’s manuscript ‘Alice’s Adventures Under Ground’.

You can find details of all printed materials in the Library’s online catalogue Explore the British Library. Many 19th-century children’s books from our collections have been digitised and can be accessed directly from this catalogue. Fuller descriptions can be found in the English Short Title Catalogue (for items printed before 1801) and The Nineteenth Century.

Thousands of illustrations from the Library's digitised collection of 19th-century children's books have been made freely available under Public Domain Mark on British Library Flickr.

What is available in our Reading Rooms?

You can consult printed items in our Reading Rooms by finding and requesting them in Explore the British Library

You can consult manuscripts and archival material in our Manuscripts Reading Room. Find your items in Explore Archives and Manuscripts and request them via the ‘Request Other Items’ tab. You may need to provide us with a letter of introduction or further information in order to access manuscripts and archives. Use our online catalogue to find out whether access conditions apply.

We also provide onsite access to a wide range of subscription databases, many of which include digitised images of material from the British Library’s collections. 

These include: 

What is available in other organisations?

Other major collections of children’s literature in the United Kingdom include: Material which can be accessed online includes:

Further information

How to guides

How to handle archives

Watch our guide and help us keep our archive material in good condition

Find and request Lord Chamberlain's Plays

How to locate items in our largest single manuscript collection

Using the English Short Title Catalogue (ESTC)

How to use the English Short Title Catalogue (ESTC)

Guide to researching provenance of books now in the British Library

Where do the British Library’s old printed books ‘come from'? Who owned or read them in centuries past? Why does it matter?

How to get a Reader Pass if you are under 18

How to apply for an under 18 Reader Pass

Get a Reader Pass

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