Scene from Truyền Kiều
Scene from Truyền Kiều (detail). Shelfmark: Or.14844, f.21v

The Vietnamese language collection consists of five manuscripts, about 10,000 monographs and 290 titles of periodicals and newspapers.

About the collection

Manuscript treasures include a copy of one of the greatest Vietnamese literary works, Truyền Kiều ‘The Tale of Kiều’ by Nguyễn Du (1765-1820), and an illustrated topographical account of a tribute mission to China in 1880, ‘The Northwards Embassy by Land and Water from Hanoi to Beijing’.

Printed materials include early books in Quốc Ngữ (Romanised) characters published by missionaries in the early 20th century, and Introduction générale a l’étude de la technique du peuple annamite by Henri Oger (1910-11), which has detailed and informative drawings featuring Vietnamese handicraft techniques with captions in Hán-Nôm script. The main strengths of the printed collection are in history, literature, law, politics, anthropology, sociology and education.

The British Library holds a unique collection of over 290 titles of serials from around the Vietnam War, constituting a rich body of information about Vietnam at this important juncture of its history. Also important is the collection of overseas Vietnamese publications, mainly from the United States, Canada and Europe which give a very different perspective on Vietnamese history of this period.

What is available online?

Digitised Vietnamese manuscripts and other Vietnamese and Cham material is found in the Endangered Archives Programme. Some early Vietnamese printed books from the British Library are available on the Southeast Asian Digital Library.

The British Library’s online catalogues, Explore the British Library (for printed books and periodicals) and Explore Archives and Manuscripts, include all Vietnamese publications and some Vietnamese manuscripts.

The Asian and African Studies blog contains short research articles on selected items from Vietnam.

Dreams of Vietnam is a virtual exhibition of highlights of the Vietnamese collection.

What is available in our Reading Rooms?

All Vietnamese manuscripts and printed books can be consulted in the Asian and African Studies Reading Room. Some printed books which are stored at Boston Spa in Yorkshire may take up to 48 hours to be made available.