From Beowulf to the Brontës, from Shakespeare quartos to Wendy Cope’s emails, our collections offer an unparalleled resource for the study of English literature and British theatre. They cover a range of formats including archives and manuscripts, printed books and sound recordings.

Collection guides

Reading Room  Paul Grundy

St Pancras Reading Rooms

At St Pancras we have 11 Reading Rooms, each specialising in a different subject area or type of material and with different opening hours. In our Reading Rooms you can:

  • Consult books, journals and other items from our collections
  • Access a wide range of electronic resources and electronic journals
  • Consult subject guides, bibliographies and other research aids

If you need help, please ask our Reference Specialists at the enquiry desks or contact the Reference Service.

We offer a range of free Reader sessions and 1-2-1 consultations to help you make the best use of the Library's collections.

You’ll need a Reader Pass

Opening hours for all Reading Rooms

Blog posts

Amber Akaunu reflects on her work with the Beryl Gilroy archive

Friday, July 29, 2022

By Amber Akaunu, filmmaker and artist, who was commissioned by the British Library to engage creatively with the Beryl Gilroy archive. Reflecting on past projects and experiences is something that I admittedly had never even considered doing before spending time...

A researcher's story: using the Robert Aickman Archive at the British Library

Friday, July 15, 2022

by R.B. Russell, researcher, publisher and writer, who consulted the Robert Aickman Archive at the British Library and writes here of his experiences. BL Add. MS 89209/3/5. Robert Aickman at Gledhow Gardens, London. 1980 I first came across Robert Aickman...

The sea was rushing in - marking the bicentenary of the death of Percy Shelley

Friday, July 8, 2022

By Alexander Lock, Curator, Modern Archives and Manuscripts. Today, 8 July 2022, marks the bicentenary of the death of the Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822). One of the most politically radical of the Romantic poets, Shelley’s best known works...

Coleridge and The Ancient Mariner

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

By Catherine Angerson, Curator, Modern Archives and Manuscripts. A small display to mark the 250th anniversary of the birth of the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772–1834) can be seen in the Treasures Gallery until 25 September 2022. Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s...

More blog posts

Related events

MA in Early Modern English Literature: Text & Transmission

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The British Library is working in partnership with King’s College London to teach an MA in English literature, entitled 'Early Modern English Literature: Text and Transmission'.

View all events

Projects

National Life Stories: Authors' Lives

In-depth interviews with leading authors working in Britain today

Off the Map: Videogame & Interactive Fiction Design Competition

A videogame and interactive fiction design competition for UK higher education students

All projects

Case studies

More Case studies
…A PhD can be a lonely journey, but collaborative PhDs are certainly not that.…

Investigating constructions of identity in the works and archive of the writer Ruth Prawer Jhabvala.

…It will be in the British Library for eternity!…

Hannah's collaborative PhD research will lead to a new archive on black British poetry in performance.

…The research I did as an Edison Fellow at the British Library was invaluable for my PhD…

Alexis Bennett researched 1930s British film music as an Edison Fellow at the British Library.

…we felt like we had a bond with everybody…

Jessica Rodgers took part in our Writing London project in 2012 engaging young people aged 16-24, outside of formal education, with library and heritage collections.

Library experts

Jeremy Jenkins

Curator, Emerging Media, Contemporary British Publications

Stephen Cleary

Lead Curator, Literary and Creative Recordings

Alison Bailey

Lead Curator, Printed Heritage Collections 1901-2000

More staff members