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 free Discovery and 1-2-1 Sessions 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

“That was our place.” - The Cambridge of Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes

Saturday, August 17, 2019

by guest blogger Di Beddow, PhD student at Queen Mary, University of London, researching Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath in Cambridge. The notebook containing the Hughes poem 'Cambridge Was Our Courtship' (Add MS 88918/1/2) is currently on display in the...

Stuff and Nonsense: Lewis Carroll and Edward Lear

Friday, August 2, 2019

by Kate Owen, Kings College, London and Stephen Noble, Cataloguer Modern Archives and Manuscripts. Falmouth Art Gallery’s ‘Stuff and Nonsense’ is a family friendly, free exhibition open from the 22nd June to 7th September 2019, 10am-5pm. The British Library is...

Penelope Fitzgerald’s Archive: A Human Connection

Friday, July 5, 2019

by Sarah Ellis, Archivist and Cataloguer of the Penelope Fitzgerald Archive (Add MS 89289). The archive is now available to consult, for free, in our Reading Rooms. In 2017, the British Library acquired the archive of Penelope Fitzgerald (née Knox),...

Shame Deferred and Shame Transcended: Literary Reflections at the End of Pride Month

Thursday, June 27, 2019

by Callum McKean, Curator of Contemporary Literary Archives and Manuscripts. To learn more about LGBT works and issues in the Library's collections, take a look at our web space, LBTQ Histories. To learn more about E.M Forster's gay fiction, click...

More blog posts

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.