British Literary Manuscripts Online

Representing the largest digitisiation project of its kind, British Literary Manuscripts Online consists of two digital collections, British Literary Manuscripts Online, c.1660-1900 and British Literary Manuscripts Online: Medieval and Renaissance. Both parts are available to institutions as stand alone collections. Alternatively, institutions can purchase both parts together enabling students and researchers to cross-search the collections on the one intuitive and user-friendly interface and access 700 years of British literary manuscripts online.

British Literary Manuscripts Online c.1660-1900

British Literary Manuscripts Online c.1660-1900 provides an intimate look into the lives and works of Britain’s major writers across two hundred years. From the rise of Charles II to the death of Queen Victoria British Literary Manuscripts Online c.1660-1900 contains complete facsimile copies of author manuscripts including poems,plays, and novels, diaries and letters as well as drawings and handwritten drafts. The collection traces the development of literary movements from the classicism of Pope and Johnson to the Romanticism of Wordsworth and the gothic novels of the Brontës. Users can search across 400,000 pages by metadata which includes author, named person and title of the work. 

A sample list of manuscripts in BLMO c.1660-1900 :

  • William Blake -'The Rosetti Manuscript,' with early drafts of the Songs of Experience,The Everlasting Gospel, The Vision of the Last Judgement and The Public Address,
  • Samuel Johnson’s journals from travels in Wales and France
  • 156 poems of Robert Burns, including the autograph draft of Tam O'Shanter
  • A first edition of Gulliver’s Travels with Jonathan Swift's alterations
  • Complete manuscript drafts of 12 of the major novels of Charles Dickens, including A Tale of Two Cities, Bleak House, David Copperfield, Hard Times, Little Dorrit and Oliver Twist.
  • Complete autograph manuscripts of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre and the first press reviews of Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights
  • Oscar Wilde - his letters to Lord Alfred Douglas and original typescripts of The Picture of Dorian Gray and Mrs Arbuthnot (A Woman of No Importance)


British Literary Manuscripts Online: Renaissance and Medieval

The second part of British Literary Manuscripts Online series, British Literary Manuscripts Online: Medieval & Renaissance offers students and researchers unprecedented online access to 565,000 pages of rare manuscripts from the Medieval and Early Modern periods, c.1100 to 1660. Researchers and students can explore online a rich tapestry of letters, poems, stories, plays, chronicles, religious writings and commonplace books through searchable catalogue records.

Please note:

“Our databases and digital archives are only available for institutions to trial and purchase. They are not available at this stage for individual subscriptions. For individuals seeking specific content within one of our resources, Gale, part of Cengage Learning does not have the rights to provide this service. If you wish to obtain a specific article, issue or book, please contact your library and enquire about online access to our products. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.”