We have rich resources for the study of South Asia past and present. South Asia is taken to include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Collection guides

Asia and Africa

Asian & African Studies Reading Room

  • Find information on the shelves
  • Access online databases and electronic books and journals
  • Order collection items to the Reading Room via our catalogues

If you need help, just ask our Information Specialists at the Reference Enquiry desk or contact the Asian & African Studies Reference Team.


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

Mon: 10.00 – 17.00
Tue – Sat: 09.30 – 17.00
Sun & English Public Holidays: closed

Opening hours for all Reading Rooms

Blog posts

‘Pierce your heart’: Letters from Europe and North Africa by Indian prisoners in the Second World War

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Indian prisoner-of-war (PoW) experiences during the Second World War varied sharply, depending on where soldiers were taken captive and who their captor was. Letters archived at the British Library, documented in military censorship reports, reveal how such experiences are inflected...

A day in the life of an East India Company Director

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Every April the stockholders of the East India Company elected 24 men to serve as directors for the following year. Two were then chosen by the directors to be Chairman and Deputy. These ‘merchant- statesmen’ had responsibility for governing a...

The Portuguese Hobson-Jobson

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

One of the things I wanted to explore as part of my tenure as the British Library’s translator-in-residence was the way in which dominant or colonial languages absorb minority languages and the tongues of the colonised, from speech patterns in...

Murray the Escapologist

Thursday, September 6, 2018

It is not unusual when looking through archives to find something unexpected. This entertaining leaflet for Murray the Australian Escapologist was among the private papers of Sir John Gilbert Laithwaite, Private Secretary to the Viceroy of India from 1936 to...

More blog posts

Related events

Talks and Discussions

Earthquakes and South Asia: Visualising 19th-Century Disaster

Visual representation and reportage of 19th-century South Asian earthquakes from colonial archives

View all events

External links

The British Library is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

Centre of South Asian Studies

University of Cambridge

Find my past

Records of baptisms, marriages, burials, wills, pensions, military and civil career information

The National Archives

Records relating to the East India Company, and the Family Records Centre