Kannada Language Collections

A Grammar of the Kurnata Language, the first printed book in Kannada, 1817
A Grammar of the Kurnata Language, the first printed book in Kannada, 1817

Our Kannada collections include manuscripts, early and modern printed books, periodicals, newspapers, and audiovisual materials.

About the collection

We have particularly important holdings of 19th to mid-20th century publications. Our holdings overall are an important resource for the study of South Asia.


The collections include manuscripts on palm leaf, copper, stone and paper.  

The manuscripts collection includes items which came from the India Office Library, the Oriental Collections of the British Museum, and those acquired subsequently by the British Library.

Early and modern printed books and periodicals

The Library continues to acquire books and journals in the humanities and social sciences in Kannada and other languages of Karnataka. Our holdings of 19th and early to mid-20th century Kannada materials form a unique and important collection. This strength is complimented by archival material on Karnataka within the India Office Records. Also significant is the collection of early printed Christian literature by various missionaries in Kannada, Konkani in Kannada script, and Tulu in Kannada script.

What is available online?

Kannada books acquired since 1980 are included in Explore the British Library

What is available in our Reading Rooms?


Older books are listed in the following published catalogues, which are available in the Library's Asian and African Studies Reading Room:

Proscribed publications

These are publications banned by the pre-1947 Indian government, 10 Kannada publications are listed in: 
  • Publications proscribed by the Government of India: A catalogue of the collections in the India Office Library and Records and the Department of Oriental Manuscripts and Printed Books by Graham Shaw and Mary Lloyd (London: British Library Reference Division, 1985)


The Library’s holdings of periodicals in South Indian languages are included in the following catalogue:


Manuscripts are listed in the (unpublished) Catalogue of Oriental Manuscripts in the Asian and African Studies Reading Room.

Manuscripts and older books may be consulted in the Asian and African Studies Reading Room. More recent books may be viewed in any St Pancras reading room, and books in Kannada published since 1945 are available for loan to libraries and other institutions through the Library's Document Supply Centre.