Discover the extraordinary story behind one of humankind’s greatest achievements: through more than 100 objects spanning 5,000 years and seven continents
Follow the remarkable evolution of writing from ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs carved in stone and early printed text such as William Caxton’s edition of The Canterbury Tales, to the art of note-taking by some of history’s greatest minds, and onwards to the digital communication tools we use today.
Marvel at centuries of human innovation as writing enabled progress and opened doors to expression and art. Items as diverse as James Joyce’s collection of notes for his novel Ulysses and a 60,000-strong petition against Bengali partition, sit alongside Burmese tattooing instruments and a new take on typography by the Russian artist El Lissitzky to illustrate how writing allows us to enact change and make a lasting creative mark of our own.
Our interactive exhibition gives you the chance to reflect on works of genius that wouldn’t exist without the writing traditions of civilisations past. Be dazzled by gold-laden Japanese calligraphy. Study Mozart’s musical flourishes. Pore over Alexander Fleming’s pioneering notebook. Each of these written records carries the history of writing in their every stroke.Finally, reflect on writing’s future and the role you’ll play in an increasingly digital world. Will we abandon pens and keyboards for voice and video messaging, or continue to carry the traditions of ancient times with us? Consider what sort of writer you are and leave us with some final words of your own.
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.