You can access ancient, medieval, modern, and contemporary manuscript and archive material from around the world. Our collections include historical, literary, political, scientific, and religious papers as well as maps, charters, seals, rolls, and papyri.

Collection guides

Blog posts

Researching Women in Science in the Modern Manuscript Collections Part 1: 1601-1848

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

The British Library modern manuscript collections contain a substantial volume of papers that concern the history of science in Britain. There is, however, a notable absence of women authors among these scientific manuscripts that date from the 17th to the...

Spreading the word: a tribute to ancient teachers

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

The Greek and Latin papyri, ostraca and tablets of the British Library provide incomparably rich sources for learning about ordinary people, whose lives and words remained otherwise unrecorded for many centuries. One of the most intriguing perspectives these sources reveal...

The Black and Indigenous presence in the story of how Breadfruit came to the Caribbean

Thursday, July 9, 2020

This post by Nadine Chambers is part of a special Summer Scholars blog series highlighting the recent research Eccles Centre awards have supported across the Caribbean, Canadian and US collections. 'As the heirs of two oceanic histories, we are conscious...

Shakespeare's only surviving playscript now online

Thursday, July 9, 2020

One of the most iconic literary manuscripts by one of the world's most famous playwrights, William Shakespeare (1564–1616), can now be viewed in full online on the British Library's Digitised Manuscripts site. The Booke of Sir Thomas Moore does not...

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Case studies

More Case studies
…You get to know how people work in an institution like this... it's something I would like to do as well.…

Exploring the working life of a twentieth-century scientist through the archive of John Maynard Smith.

…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.

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The British Library houses one of the world's greatest collections of illuminated manuscripts, and Janet Backhouse has drawn on this rich resource to make a selection of outstanding examples that span over 800 years of medieval book production.

£8.95

A History of the Book in 100 Books (hardback)

From inscriptions on tombs to the first writings on papyrus; from scrolls to the first bound codex books in Roman times.

£20

Codex Sinaiticus: New Perspectives on the Ancient Biblical Manuscript

Codex Sinaiticus is one of the most important books in the world.

£50