Main | Turning the Pages | Features | Highlights tour | Showcases | What's on | Visit us
The British Library
homeHome  >   Online Gallery  >   Turning the Pages
Search the Online Gallery

The Leonardo Notebook - Introduction

Image of the front cover of Leonardo da Vinci's Notebook

Copyright © The British Library Board

'This is to be a collection without order, drawn from many papers, which I have copied here, hoping to arrange them later each in its place, according to the subjects of which they treat.' Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) Leonardo is describing how, in the house of Piero di Braccio Martelli in Florence, in the year 1508, he began the collection of short treatises, notes and drawings, which now makes up the Leonardo Notebook in the British Library. The manuscript, in Italian, is written in Leonardo's characteristic 'mirror writing', left-handed and moving from right to left.

The notebook was not originally a bound volume, but was put together after Leonardo's death from loose papers of various types and sizes. Many of the pages were written in 1508; others come from different periods in Leonardo's life, covering practically the whole of his career. The range of subjects - from mechanics to the flight of birds - demonstrates Leonardo's almost compulsive intellectual curiosity about scientific and technical matters.

British Library Arundel MS 263

Find out more:

Read Introduction to the Codex Arundel by Prof. Carlo Pedretti (PDF format, 172kb)

Read Introduction to Codices Arundel and Leicester by Dr Katrina Dean (PDF format, 220kb)


This version of Turning the Pages does not require the Shockwave plug-in. It foregoes the interactive animation that lets you 'virtually' turn pages and brings you the same high-quality images of our greatest books in standard web pages.

You can listen to the audio files on these pages with Windows Media Player

Main  Turning the Pages  Features  Highlights tour  Showcases  What's on  Visit us  Disclaimer  Copyright  Privacy