The British Library has posted over 1000 of its greatest literary treasures online in a new website, Discovering Literature – including the manuscripts of Blake, Wordsworth, Shelley, Keats, Austen, Dickens and Wilde, the largest collection of childhood writings of the Brontë sisters, and other unique artefacts which shed new light on their life and works.
Beginning with the Romantic and Victorian periods, the has posted handwritten manuscripts, diaries, letters and other materials belonging to iconic authors including Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, the Brontë sisters, Oscar Wilde, Percy Bysshe Shelley and William Wordsworth alongside original documents from the time they lived in, such as newspaper clippings, adverts and photographs, intended to bring their world – and their literary works – to life in a new way. The research suggests that this is a resource English teachers will find useful; 92% of English teachers say that students would benefit from being taught using material that brings to life the historical, social and political contexts in which classic literary texts were written.
Key highlights on the Discovering Literature website include:
- Manuscripts of Jane Eyre, the preface to Dickens’s Oliver Twist, Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the d’Urbervilles, Jane Austen’s Persuasion, an early draft of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, and the poetry of Shelley, Wordsworth and Keats
- An 1809 dictionary of criminal slang including words found in the works of Charles Dickens, for example ‘twist’ – meaning ‘hanged’ – from Oliver Twist
- Papers of Jane Austen, including her notes detailing other people’s opinions of her work, including one peer describing Pride and Prejudice as ‘downright nonsense‘
- William Blake’s notebook, including drafts of his iconic poems ‘London’, ‘The Tyger’ and ‘The Chimney Sweeper’ and many of his drawings
- The largest collection of Brontë childhood writings, including miniature notebooks detailing their fantasy worlds of Gondol and Angria, diary entries and letters describing their family life
- Over 150 newly commissioned articles and 20 short documentary films from novelists, teachers, academics, historians and performers including Iain Sinclair, Simon Callow, Kathryn Sutherland and Michael Slater filmed in literary locations such as Jane Austen’s House Museum, the Brontë Parsonage Museum and Charles Dickens Museum
The British Library Launches New Online Collection of 1,200 Romantic and Victorian Literary Treasures
Filed by May 16, 2014on