One of the places on my must see list was the British Library, and let me tell you, it did not disappoint! The British Library is a gold mine of literary treasures. My flatmates, Amber and Maddie, were just as excited as I was, so I didn’t feel like a complete nerd!
The library in general is just absolutely massive! It is home to 14 million books, 920,000 journal and newspaper titles, 58 million patents, 3 million sound recordings, and much more- heaven for anyone who loves anything written!
When you walk in there is a gift shop to the immediate left, but if you pass it and walk up a few steps you will find The Treasures of the British Library. They are housed in a vault like room with very dim lights and dark walls. It is really quite dramatic! Inside this vault like room is case after case filled with all kinds of treasures! When we first entered, I didn’t even know where to begin. I went quickly from one case to another, then I run over to Maddie or Amber to say did you see this, how about this, what about that?! Such a spaz! I did finally get a grip, and I went through the exhibit like any other normal person.
Pictures are not allowed inside The Treasures of the British Library exhibit in order to help preserve its contents, but let me share with you some of the treasures we saw.
The Magna Carta – They had drafts as well as the final copy.
Jane Austen’s writing desk and some of her journals!
The first Bible printed on the printing press
Some of the original copies of the lyrics of Beatles songs as they were being written
Shakespeare’s first folio
Handel’s music sheets were on display as well
The collection is organized by categories- dawn of printing, historical documents, illuminated manuscripts and printed books, literary manuscripts and printed books, Magna Carta and associated documents, maps, music, sacred texts, science, and Shakespeare and his contemporaries. The science section had documents containing drawings of Leonardo Da Vinci and others! It was really neat too such a variety of such famous documents all in one room!
The Treasures of the British Library are amazing; however, I was even more amazed by and captivated by the King’s Library. The British Library houses King George III’s massive collection of books, and when I say massive, I mean MASSIVE. I think the library in Beauty and the Beast was inspired by King George III’s library. His collection of books is amazing. King George III’s collection of books is one of the first things you see upon entering The British Library. It’s the kind of sight that when you see it, you can’t help but just stop and stare for a while. It is encased in a glass chamber that is climate controlled and can be seen on multiple levels of the library. I don’t know how many stories high it reaches.
I took several pictures, but like many things, the pictures just don’t do the real thing justice.
The history of King George III’s library is pretty interesting, but even more interesting, in my opinion, are the books that belong to his collection. For more details on King George III’s library check out this page of the British Library’s website.