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The British Library
The national Library of the United Kingdom
The national Library of the United Kingdom

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Russian Revolution: Hope, Tragedy, Myths opens in one month.

Our exhibition takes a fresh look at the Revolution 100 years on. With rarely seen items from both sides of the conflict – from a first edition of the Communist Manifesto to anti-Bolshevik propaganda – this is a unique chance to understand the lesser-known personal stories behind the events that changed the world.

#BLRussia1917 opens 28 April. Book your tickets.
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Did you know that Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet was based on a famous folktale which originated as early as the 15th century?

On #WorldPoetryDay, we look at Arthur Brooke’s 3,020 line poem, 'The Tragicall Historye of Romeus and Iuliet' (1562). It was the first English translation of the folktale and would later become a key source for Shakespeare. Discover how Brooke’s version compares with Shakespeare’s.


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Let me Yongle that for you…

Commissioned in 1402, did you know the Yongle Encyclopaedia comprised 22,877 chapters bound in 11,095 volumes?

#BeforeWikipedia #BLHighlights

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Did Jane Austen develop cataracts from arsenic poisoning?

The British Library has for the first time had Austen's spectacles tested. Take a closer look at her glasses with the latest blog from Untold Lives

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Can't wait for our Harry Potter: A History of Magic exhibition? You can now sign up to hear about all our #BLHarryPotter news at

Step into our exhibition and celebrate the 20th anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. We unveil rare books, manuscripts and magical objects, capturing the traditions of magic, folklore and mythology often found in literature. Our archive material will sit alongside drafts and drawings from +Bloomsbury Publishing and J.K. Rowling’s personal archives.

Exhibition opens 20 October 2017

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Will you be going sweet or savoury this #PancakeDay?

Perfect for Shrove Tuesday, here’s a recipe for pancakes from a 16th-century cookery book called 'The Good Huswifes Jewell'. It was during this time that cookery books first began to be published and acquired with any sort of regularity. Explore more:

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Does this map look familiar to you?

In 1931 London Transport commissioned an employee, Harry Beck, to create a new map of the underground railway system. Beck faced a major design problem when creating his map: how was he to show multiple new stations and suburban line extensions in one simple sketch?

As an engineering draftsman, he drew on the conventions of electrical circuit diagrams. By reducing the map to its basic geometries, using verticals, horizontals and diagonals, and exaggerating the central area’s scale, Beck created something very special – not only legible and memorable, but ultimately enduring.

See this iconic sketch at Maps and the 20th Century: Drawing the Line, now in its final week. #BLMaps

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What do you notice about these maps? Part of Benjamin Hennig’s ‘Anthropocene world’ collection, they show a view of the world at the beginning of the 21st century.

Blending spatial data with population data, these digital maps are known as ‘gridded cartograms’. Each cell on the map represents an equal geographic area that is then resized in line with its total population according to an algorithm.

You can see the extent of globalisation and how the world is connected through lines representing shipping routes (white), roads (green), railways (orange) and pipelines (red).

Explore the changes in mapping perspectives during the 20th century with our #BLMaps website
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At the age of 16, Jane Austen wrote a spoof History of England which mimics the history books she read as a child. She provides a comic account of England from Henry IV to Charles I as told by ‘a partial, prejudiced, & ignorant historian’.

The narrator can be seen to be frequently distracted by his or her opinions of the events and people being described. A note on the bottom of the first page also marks out the tone of the tale: ‘N.B. There will be very few Dates in this history’.

Austen's History of England, together with her other teenage writings, can now be seen in a special display in our Treasures Gallery. Jane Austen Among Family and Friends is open until 19 February


Photo: Tony Antoniou

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Capturing the optimism of the early months of World War I, this competition map appeared in the Financial Times in 1914.

Players were invited to redraw the boundaries of Europe, guessing what they would look like at the end of the war. The entry which most closely reflected the eventual state of Europe would receive a prize of £25.

The wars that took place in the 20th century saw a great increase in the use of maps by the military, as well as a spike in public interest. See crucial maps created during wartime at our Maps and the 20th Century: Drawing the Line exhibition.

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