Literary History

Explore Britain's rich literary heritage with events, features, news and web resources collected from hundreds of museums, archives, historic properties and libraries across the UK .

A photo of a poem by Robert Burns next to a drawing of the poet's face in profile

Burns Night: Robert Burns' desperate letter to his lover featuring the song Ae Fond Kiss

This is the final letter that Robert Burns wrote to Nancy McLehose, with whom he had a brief affair - including the famous song ‘Ae Fond Kiss'.

A photo of an ancient drawing of a figure on a piece of brown and yellow parchment

Shakespeare, Darwin, human dissection and oracle bones: Ten of Cambridge University's greatest treasures

Dissections, bones and a manikin as Cambridge University Library celebrates 600 years as one of the world's greatest literary institutions.

A picture of an illustration of a man on an ancient book

Scholar, Courtier, Magician: The Lost Library of 17th century scientific genius John Dee

A new exhibition reveals Elizabeth I's court adviser as a complicated and determined man who shirked fame in favour of knowledge and alchemy. Sophie Beckwith explains more.

a photo of a page of ink handwriting

New John Dee discovery reveals resemblance to mother and a mysterious 'dwarf'

As if there wasn't already enough interest in the forthcoming John Dee exhibition, curators at the Royal College of Physicians have uncovered a hitherto undeciphered page of biographical information......

A photo of an ancient book

From a £39,000 record of flaura to the Lindisfarne Gospels: six of the World's most beautiful historic books

From a set of 263 watercolours making up the first illustrated flora and fauna record of North America to the Lindisfarne Gospels of the Middle Ages, see six spectacular books.

a close up photo of a seal with a kingly figure, Latin inscription and traces of fingerprints

Researchers to uncover crimes and forensic secrets hidden in Britain's historic wax seals

Modern forensic analysis will be paired with detailed historical research to reveal new insights into medieval British society hidden within medieval wax seals.

a lightly coloured pencil sketch of Charlotte Bronte with her hair gathered and a lace dress

Brontë Society and National Portrait Gallery combine for Brontë200 celebrations

The National Portrait Gallery and the Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth are pooling their resources to celebrate the bicentenary of the birth of the famous author of Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë.

A photo of ancient sheet music in black ink on light brown paper

Object of the Week: The score for Deck the Halls copied by Jane Austen in her family music book

A section of Deck the Halls, in Jane Austen's hand, is part of an impressive collection of 18 albums of music containing around 600 pieces that belonged to the 19th century writer and her relations.

A photo of the front page of an ancient medical book with black ink on the front

Object of the Week: Scotland's first medical book, to be read out to people infected by the plague

Scotland's first printed medical book was inspired by the plague that broke out in 1564-69 and published in response to it.

A photo of a piece of old paper with black ink writing on it

William Shakespeare's last will and testament among key documents going on public show

William Shakespeare's will and testament and a grant of four and a half yards of red cloth, made to him by King James I, are among the exhibits in a display opening next year.

a detail from a comic panel showing various Victorian character types

World's first mass-produced comic strip to go on show at The Hunterian in 2016

A major exhibition opening at the Hunterian Art Gallery in March 2016 will reveal the world’s oldest comic, The Glasgow Looking Glass of 1825, and journey from Georgian satire to Scooby Doo and......

A photo of a time capsule from 21 years ago being removed from beneath a city lawn

Time capsule buried in Newcastle 21 years ago is removed from the ground - complete with letters, coins and cross-stitch

A time capsule buried beneath a civic centre in Newcastle has been excavated from the ground after 21 years following a reminder from a former pupil who was involved in the original ceremony which......

A photo of a profile oil painting of a 17th century man in formal clothing

Why didn't Samuel Pepys destroy his incriminating diary? Writer knew his words would end up in print, says expert

Dr Kate Loveman, a Senior Lecturer at the University of Leicester's School of English, says Samuel Pepys suspected his famous diary would be printed - and took steps to protect his reputation.

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