We're the national library of the UK. We'd like to show you some of our beautiful collections and tell the stories of the people who use them.
Only two copies of the earliest printed 'Hamlet' survive in the world. Published in 1603, it is different and much shorter than the version usually performed today. Most startlingly, Hamlet's soliloquy runs, ‘To be or not to be, I there’s the point’. #BLTreasures#Shakespeare
To mark the second week of #Ramadan, here is the oldest #Quran manuscript held in the British Library which was likely copied in the Arabian Peninsula in the 8th century CE.
The Arabic word mā’il (by which this Qur’ān is known) means ‘sloping’ and refers to the sloping style of the script. Now fully digitised, you can turn the pages of this item and read more by clicking the link in our bio.
The first European account of the Haka was written about a confrontation between Cook's crew and the Māori at Tūranganui-a-Kiwa (Poverty Bay) on 9 October 1769:
‘They seemed formed in ranks, each man jump’d with a swinging motion at the same instant of time to the right and left alternately accommodating a war song in very just time to each motion; their lances were at the same time elevated a considerable height above their heads.’
Witness this moment between colliding worlds in our #BLCookVoyages exhibition.
(Image from William Monkhouse’s journal, 1769)
Cook. Inventor. Entrepreneur. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Chef Marcus Wareing meets A B Marshall and her ‘fancy ices’ with food historian Polly Russell. But in a world before freezers, where did the ice come from? ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
‘There are not a lot of women who stand out like her in terms of business […] She’s taken domestic cooking, and she’s made a profession out of it.’ Get to know Agnes Marshall in our podcast by following the link in our bio. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ (Fancy Ices, etc. by Mrs Agnes B Marshall, 1894. Shelfmark: General Reference Collection 7942.g.26.)
Scholars believe that Shakespeare wrote and revised his sonnets during the 1590s and early 1600s. The themes of his sonnets include the shortness of life and fleetingness of beauty; ways to achieve immortality; desire and longing; love as a sickness; and poetic patronage.
Take a closer look at the first edition of Shakespeare’s sonnets through the link in our bio. Which is your favourite sonnet? #BLTreasures
Today is the last day of Shavuot, the Jewish festival celebrating the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai. This 17th-century Torah scroll belonged to one of the farthest flung and most remarkable religious communities: the Chinese Jews of Kaifeng. (Shelfmark: Add MS 19250) #BLTreasures
We request the pleasure of your company in the Treasures Gallery to take a look at the collection items in our temporary #RoyalWedding display. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Fair ladies, feasting and fancy frocks, medieval royal weddings were anything but understated. Explore them in all their glory in #BLTreasures. Free entry and open daily. No RSVP required.
Image 1) This manuscript shows the wedding of King Edward II and Isabella of France in 1308. Isabella takes centre stage dressed in blue and gold, with a sparkling crown and flowing hair (Royal MS 15 E IV, f. 294v)
Image 2) The wedding of King Henry V and Catherine of Valois in 1420. Surrounding the couple are Tudor roses and the Beaufort portcullis which relate to Henry VII, the first owner of the book (Royal MS 20 E VI, f. 9v)
Our new James Cook: The Voyages exhibition shop range features nautical, tropical and Antarctic themes. Navigate your way to exciting new gifts from books and travel kits to spyglasses and pocket sextants through the link in our bio. #BLCookVoyages
James Cook’s maps were often the first accurate European records of the places he visited. By charting New Zealand Cook proved that it was not, as many in Europe had thought, a northern extension of the mythical Great Southern Continent. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Although remarkably accurate, Cook’s first chart of New Zealand contains two mistakes – can you spot them? ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Take a closer look at this map in our #BLCookVoyages exhibition.
The joy of bread, courtesy of The Smithfield Decretals (Royal MS 10 E IV) #WorldBakingDay ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Find out more about the manuscript by following the link in our bio
To mark the beginning of #Ramadan this evening, here is the recently digitised #Quran commissioned in seven volumes by Sultan Baybars in Cairo between 704-5 AH/1304-6 CE. One of the most magnificent Qur’ans in the Library, read more about the 2000 golden pages in this spectacular manuscript and how they’re now available online.
Click the link in our bio for more.