Turning the pages : Rare books from the British Library

What amazing opportunities we have now that we can digitize many very old and delicate original sources. The British Library has an Online Gallery called Turning the Pages.  Now pages of some of the world’s most protected, cherished, antiquarian books from the library’s collection are available to be viewed electronically. Once we would not have been able to get any where near these books as they are too valuable or fragile for public display but now we can enjoy a rich interactive experience with these rare resources. There are a number of options for you depending on the operating system your computer uses.  

 Here you can leaf through pages of 15 incredible original texts, from  an original copy of Alice’s Adventures Underground to Jane Austen’s History of England.

When you flip through the pages of Lewis Carrolls original manuscript of Alice’s Adventures Under Ground  (that would become Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland) you can view Carroll’s handwritten story and see his self-drawn illustrations. You can also view The History of England, which Jane Austen hand wrote when she was only 15 years old.

Also on offer are a variety of texts that include the Lindisfarne Gospels, sketches by Leonardo (1508), the oldest printed book, Diamond Sutra (868 China) and Mozart’s musical diary. 

There are a variety of options you can choose when you are viewing a book page by page. These include:

  • the ability to magnify the text
  • Listen to a reading of text
  • Read commentary about it.


These are primary sources from the different eras in history. It is a very rich resource offering unusual and rare content. I can’t stop looking at these books, they are quite addictive and the narrations are a  fabulous addition.


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