Writing: Making Your Mark

Open until Tue 27 Aug 2019
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Discover the extraordinary story behind one of humankind’s greatest achievements through more than 100 objects spanning 5,000 years and seven continents

Beginning with Egyptian hieroglyphs and Mayan symbols carved in stone, follow writing’s remarkable evolution through to early printed text such as William Caxton’s 1476 edition of The Canterbury Tales, the first book printed in England, and on to the hand-written notes of some of history’s greatest minds – Captain Scott, Mozart, James Joyce, and Florence Nightingale amongst them.

Marvel at centuries of human innovation as items such as Tennyson’s quill show how writing enabled creativity, and a 60,000-strong petition against Bengali partition demonstrates how writing gave us tools for political protest.

Our exhibition gives you the chance to reflect on the beauty of writing as gold-laden calligraphy, created by a Japanese empress, and royal charters show how writing carries history in its every stroke.

Finally, reflect on writing’s future and the role it will play in an increasingly digital world. Will we abandon pens and keyboards for voice and video messaging or, as history has shown, continue to carry the traditions of ancient times with us?


Further Information

If you have any questions about your visit, please contact Customer Services: Customer-Services@bl.uk or +44 (0)1937 546060.

If you’re a group of 10 people or more, get a 10% discount off ticket prices or book an introductory talk for £18 including entry to the exhibition.

Find out more about the learning programme to accompany the exhibition, including primary school workshopsself-guided visits for school groups,teacher eventsfamily activities and adult courses.

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Delve a little deeper

Connecting cultures with 'calligraffiti'

The 'calligraffiti' artist eL Seed uses Arabic script and Arabic calligraphy to make connections between cultures.

Where did writing begin?

From Mesopotamia to the Americas, discover how different regions around the world adopted writing at different times and for different reasons.

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The evolution of the alphabet

We trace the origins of the alphabet from ancient Egypt to today.

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Why did humans start writing?

We travel back to the ancient Middle East, to look at why, over 5,000 years ago, we first came to write.

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Name: Writing: Making Your Mark
Location: PACCAR 1
The British Library
96 Euston Road
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When: -
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Writing: Making Your Mark