Writing – Making your mark


Discover the extraordinary history behind one of humankind’s greatest achievements: how we write.

Visit the British Library in London this summer (Friday 26th April to Tuesday 27 August 2019) to explore the story as it unfolds through more than 100 objects from the British Library’s extensive collection – some on display for the very first time – bridging 5,000 years and spanning five continents. There is a charge for the exhibition but discounts are available for students.

Follow writing’s remarkable evolution through ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs carved on a stone monument and early examples of printed text such as the Mainz Psalter, to the art of note-taking as demonstrated by some of history’s greatest minds, and onwards to the ground-breaking digital communication tools we use today.

Marvel at thousands of years of human innovation as writing continually enabled progress and opened doors to expression and art. Items as diverse as James Joyce’s annotated copy of Ulysses and a 60,000 strong petition against Bengali partition, sit alongside tattooing instruments and a new take on typography by the Russian artist El Lissitzky to illustrate how writing allows us to enact change and make a lasting creative mark of our own.

The interactive exhibition gives you the chance to reflect on works of genius that wouldn’t have happened without the writing traditions of civilisations past. Be dazzled by gold-laden Japanese calligraphy. Marvel at Mozart’s flourishes. Pore over Alexander Fleming’s pioneering notebook. Each of these written records carries the history of writing in their every stroke.

The exhibition will challenge you to consider writing’s future and what role you can play in an increasingly digital world. Will we abandon pens and keyboards in favour of voice messaging and emojis, or continue to carry the legacy of ancient times with us? Consider what sort of writer you are, and be encouraged to leave us with some final words of your own.

[Text adapted from the British Library web site]

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