British Library puts literary treasures online

May 16, 2014 - 10:35 AM
Britain Literary Greats Online

This undated image made available by The British Library in London, Friday, May 16, 2014, shows Charlotte Bronte's earliest known effort at writing, a short story written for Anne, the baby of the family. It it also the first of the little books made by the Bronte children and, as such, it does not reach the level of technical sophistication that they were later to achieve. The writing is a clumsy longhand, there is no title page or contents list and no attempt is made to imitate magazine format. The British Library is putting hundreds of its most valuable literary resources online, from the Bronte sisters’ childhood writings to William Blake’s notebook. (AP Photo/The British Library)

LONDON (AP) — Hundreds of the British Library's most valuable literary resources, from the Bronte sisters' earliest writings and drawings to an early draft of Oscar Wilde's "The Importance of Being Earnest," have been posted online.

The library's new website, unveiled Friday, features digital versions of 1,200 handwritten manuscripts, diaries and letters from Romantic and Victorian writers including Charles Dickens, William Wordsworth and Jane Austen.

Among the highlights is an 1826 miniature book containing a short story illustrated by tiny drawings by Charlotte Bronte for her younger sister Anne. The book is Charlotte's earliest known effort at writing, and contains signs that the Bronte children were beginning to invent their adventure stories together.

Other items include William Blake's notebook containing his drawings and drafts for poems like "The Tyger" and "The Chimney Sweeper," and a lock of Percy Bysshe Shelley's hair.

There are also notes belonging to Austen detailing other people's opinions of her writing, including one peer describing "Pride and Prejudice" as "downright nonsense."

The collection also features original documents from the time the authors lived in — such as newspaper clippings and an 1838 theater playbill for "Oliver Twist" — to bring the period to life for readers.

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Online: http://www.bl.uk/discovering-literature