The Index: A History. With Susie Dent and Dennis Duncan

Composite image of Dennis Duncan, Susie Dent and "Index, A History of the" book cover

For more information

  • This event has taken place
  • Tel: +44 (0)1937 546546
  • Email:
  • Full Price: £5.00 Member: £5.00 Other concessions available

The secret world of the book’s back pages

This is an online-only event hosted on the British Library platform. Bookers are sent a viewing link shortly before the event and are able to watch at any time for 48 hours after the start time.

Most of us give little thought to the last few pages of a book – it's just where you go to look things up. But the index is an unsung and extraordinary everyday tool with an illustrious, little-known past.

Dennis Duncan, the author of the new book Index, A History of the talks to lexicographer and TV presenter Susie Dent about its curious path, from the monasteries and universities of 13th-century Europe to Silicon Valley in the 21st. They explore how the index has saved heretics from the stake, kept politicians from high office and has thrived in German print shops and Enlightenment coffee houses, novelists' living rooms and university laboratories, encountering emperors and popes, philosophers and prime ministers, poets, librarians and – of course – indexers along the way.

Buy your copy of Index, A History of the with your ticket at checkout for £23 (UK orders) and watch the event at no extra cost.*

Susie Dent is a writer and broadcaster on language. She has served as the resident word expert on Channel 4's Countdown for almost 30 years, and also appears on the show's comedy sister 8 out of 10 Cats does Countdown. Susie comments regularly on TV and radio on words in the news. She is a columnist for the Radio Times and the i newspaper and is the author of several books, including her latest, Word Perfect. She is a spokesperson for Oxford University Press, and has been a judge on the Costa Book Awards and on the Academy Excellence Awards.

Dennis Duncan is a writer, translator and lecturer in English at University College London. He has published numerous academic books, including Book Parts and The Oulipo and Modern Thought, as well as translations of Michel Foucault, Boris Vian, and Alfred Jarry. His writing has appeared in the Guardian, the Times Literary Supplement, and the London Review of Books, and recent articles have considered Mallarmé and jugs, James Joyce and pornography, and the history of Times New Roman.

*Prices include postage and packaging (£3 for UK orders and £7.50 for non-UK orders). Books will be dispatched after the event, normally within 7 days. Please ensure your postal address is up to date on your British Library account before placing your order.

Image of Dennis Duncan c Stuart Simpson / Penguin Books

The British Library is a charity. Your support helps us open up a world of knowledge and inspiration for everyone. Donate today.


Name: The Index: A History. With Susie Dent and Dennis Duncan
Where: Entrance Hall
The British Library
96 Euston Road
Show Map      How to get to the Library
When: -
Price: Full Price: £5.00
Member: £5.00
Online Event w/Book (The Index) UK postage: £23.00
Online Event w/Book (The Index) Non-UK postage: £27.50
Enquiries: +44 (0)1937 546546