British Library’s literary treasures go online

Earliest known writings of Charlotte BrontëThe British Library has created an online collection of literary treasures and scholarly articles via its new website, Discovering Literature, in a bid to increase the young people’s interest in classic books.

 The new project covers the Romantic and Victorian periods, from William Blake to the science fiction of H G Wells, with the British Library aiming to extend the collection up to present day authors and as far back in time as the Old English epic Beowulf.

 Jane Austen’s notebooks, the childhood works of the Brontë sisters, manuscripts by Keats, Wordsworth and many others plus intriguing early drafts of William Blake’s classic poems ‘Tyger Tyger’ and ‘London’ are amongst the items digitised.

Over 150 articles and 20 short films have been commissioned from experts to illuminate the society and cultural scene behind the literature. These focus both on individual authors and broader topics and are brough to life with  newspaper clippings, playbills, artworks and other contemporary material.

 The article on Crime in Oliver Twist, for instance, uses an 1809 Dictionary of Criminal Slang to reveal that “twist” was a word for “hanged”, while the article on Inventing the Future uses satirical cartoons and works such as Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein to explain how the the Industrial Revolution’s technological advances inspired nineteenth century writers to set their novels in the future.

From the Telegraph