Treasures of the British Library

The British Library holds manuscripts and first editions of some of the greatest literary works in the English language, spanning over 1000 years. Of the 150 million items in the collection, here are ten of the finest: from the epic poem Beowulf, one of the earliest surviving literary texts from the English-speaking world, to the precocious wit of the teenage Jane Austen and the pathos of Wilfred Owen’s Great War poetry.


Geoffrey Chaucer's 'Canterbury Tales' (1476)

Shakespeare's First Folio

William Blake's Notebook

Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman

Jane Austen's juvenilia

Don Juan: Autograph draft, signed, of Cantos VI and VII

Brontë juvenilia: 'Blackwood's Young Men's Magazine'

Fair copy manuscript of Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre

'Alice's Adventures Under Ground', the original manuscript version of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Poetry manuscripts of Wilfred Owen: 'Dulce et Decorum Est'

Notebook drafts of Virginia Woolf's Mrs Dalloway


Shakespeare to Sherlock: Treasures of the British Library

The National Library of China | 2017/04/21 - 2017/06/21

This exhibition showcases a range of classics of English literature from the treasures of the British Library for the first time in China, including Charles Dickens’s manuscript for Nicholas Nickleby and Charlotte Brontë’s ‘fair copy’ manuscript of Jane Eyre.

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