Growing our collection

A detail of an illuminated leaf from the Luas Psalter.
The Lucas Psalter, the British Library, Additional MS 89428. The Lucas Psalter was purchased with the generous assistance of donations from Art Fund, the Bernard H. Breslauer Fund of the American Trust for the British Library and the British Library Collections Trust.

Each year, in addition to copies of every book, newspaper and magazine published in the UK, we add culturally significant items to the collection to preserve them for future generations. Without the generosity of our supporters, we simply would not be able to make many of these acquisitions.

The generous support of the National Heritage Memorial Fund, the British Library Collections Trust, the Friends of the National Libraries and the American Trust for the British Library, as well as individual donors, allowed us to secure the Melford Hall manuscript of John Donne poetry. The manuscript is one of the five largest collections of Donne’s poems, as well as a small number by other 17th century poets. It provides major research opportunities, enhancing our understanding of Donne’s work.

British Library material on shelves

Thanks to the support of Art Fund, the Bernard H. Breslauer Fund of the American Trust for the British Library and the British Library Collections Trust, another significant acquisition was the Lucas Psalter manuscript, dating back to the 1480s.This rare Psalter is beautifully illuminated with paintings from one of the most influential artists of the late Middle Ages.

  • Our physical collection grows 8km every year

We are so grateful to our donors who come together to support important acquisitions, allowing us to uncover new research potential and secure their future.


Find out how your support has made a difference

Your support

Find our how your support has made a difference.

Playing our part

The importance of our archives proved ever greater during lockdown.

Opening up access to early manuscripts

A generous donation from The Goldhammer Foundation allowed us to make discoveries.

Extending our national reach

Thanks to the Helen Hamlyn Trust, more people than ever can engage with precious items.

Expanding our cultural programme

Our exhibitions reflect the richness of our collection and indulge every curiosity.

Insight into an exceptional mind

Bringing Leonardo da Vinci’s innovation to life through a creative partnership.

Meet Lenore

Lenore England set up the ‘Patricia G. and Jonathan S. England – British Library Innovation Fund’ to support us.

New Sound Gallery opens

The American Trust for the British Library generously funded a new free exhibition.

The next generation

Inspiring online learning with the launch of Discovering Children’s Books.

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Recent acquisitions

British Library acquires unique 15th century Lucas Psalter manuscript

British Library acquired the Lucas Psalter, an important and hitherto unknown copy of the Psalms

Visual Archive of Mervyn Peake acquired for the nation

Mervyn Peake’s Visual Archive comprises over 300 original illustrations, including drawings from his critically acclaimed Gormenghast series.

Complete Archive of award-winning novelist Andrea Levy acquired for the nation

The archive spans Levy’s literary career from the creative writing workshops she first attended in 1989 to her death in 2019.

British Library acquires archive of Theatre Royal Stratford East and Theatre Workshop

The British Library acquired the archive of the Theatre Royal Stratford East, which includes the archive of the British theatre company, Theatre Workshop.

British Library acquires rare seventeenth century manuscript of John Donne’s poetry

Recently discovered manuscript constitutes one of the largest and earliest surviving groups of Donne’s verse which has yet to be studied.