British Library

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British Library,

national library of Great Britain, located in London; one of the world's great libraries. Long a part of the British MuseumBritish Museum,
the national repository in London for treasures in science and art. Located in the Bloomsbury section of the city, it has departments of antiquities, prints and drawings, coins and medals, and ethnography.
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, the library collection originated in 1753 when the government purchased the Harleian LibraryHarleian Library
, manuscript collection of more than 7,000 volumes and more than 14,000 original legal documents, formed by Robert Harley, 1st earl of Oxford, and his son Edward, 2d earl of Oxford.
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, which belonged to Sir Robert Bruce CottonCotton, Sir Robert Bruce,
1571–1631, English antiquarian. The Cottonian collection of books, manuscripts, coins, and antiquities became a part of the British Museum when it was founded in 1753.
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, and groups of manuscripts. The collection grew four years later when George II donated his royal library, and was considerably enlarged with the addition of George III's library in 1823. It flourished in the 19th cent. under the leadership of Sir Anthony PanizziPanizzi, Sir Anthony
, 1797–1879, British librarian, b. Italy. A political exile, Panizzi settled in England in 1823 and was naturalized in 1832. He was associated with the British Museum library as assistant librarian (1831–37), keeper of printed books
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. The library remained a part of the museum until 1973 when it was made a separate entity by act of Parliament. The museum complex was famous for its large, copper-domed Round Reading Room, for 140 years (1857–1997) the haunt of an array of scholars, authors, and other luminaries. In 1997 the library was moved to vast new quarters at London's King's Cross. Designed by British architect Colin St. John Wilson, the new library is spacious and multileveled, with four large reading rooms and several exhibition areas. Traditionally a nonlending reference library with manuscript and printed books divisions, the British Library now has large lending and bibliographic departments and is the copyright depository library for Great Britain and Northern Ireland. By the beginning of the 21st cent. it housed some 150 million items, including books, magazines, newspapers, manuscripts, maps, prints, drawings, musical scores, patents, various kinds of sound recordings, and stamps. The library also maintains an online catalog. Outstanding works in its collection include a unique papyrus of Aristotle, four original Magna Cartas, Beowulf, the 4th-century Greek Codex Sinaiticus Bible, a Gutenberg Bible, Froissart's Chronicles, the Lindisfarne Gospels, Leonardo da Vinci's notebooks, and the Diamond Sutra (868), probably the oldest surviving printed book.


See N. Barker, Treasures of the British Library (1988); A. E. Day, The British Library (1988) and Inside the British Library (1998).

References in periodicals archive ?
11) Intriguingly, the three other texts in the manuscript, The Sixteen Conditions of Christ's Charity, The Five Bodily Wits, and The Five Ghostly Wits, are also found (albeit in different versions) in MS Harley 2343.
46) Susanna Fein, "British Library MS Harley 2253: The Lyrics, the Facsimile, and the Book" Studies in the Harley Manuscript, 6-7.
1 (the so-called Vernon Manuscript; late fourteenth century); British Library MS Additional 22283 (the so-called Simeon Manuscript; late fourteenth century); and, of course, British Library MS Harley 2253, which is the primary subject of my study here, and the two other manuscripts that can be identified as in the main scribe's hand, British Library MS Harley 273 and British Library MS Royal 12 C.
Thorlac Turville-Petre's lively essay on political lyrics gives a useful guide to some political backgrounds, with a particularly helpful consideration of the MS Harley 2253 lyrics, but concentrates its focus on 'hate literature'--lyrics of abuse, indignation, and xenophobia--and makes a robust defence of the inescapable presence of much medieval vituperation and insult, against modern, politically-correct critical attempts to make these features of the period 'disappear by the magic of irony' (p.
Ms Harley said: 'The new ways of doing business are nothing short of a revolution - some say its impact will be just as profound as the effect of the industrial revolution.
3 The manuscript is described and its contents itemized in the 1802 catalogue of the Cotton collection (6-7); it is also, less accurately, described in the 1696 published catalogue of the Cotton collection by Thomas Smith (4- 5), and the 1621 catalogue by Cotton preserved in British Library MS Harley 6018.
The Middle English translation survives in only one manuscript: London, British Library, MS Harley 2372.
This section ends with a brief essay by Eric Stanley on six lyrics in British Library MS Harley 2253 that are unusually written as prose in the manuscript; he reaches no specific conclusion but ponders a variety of possibilities.
He prefers Chaucer's urbane lyrics, and rather sweepingly finds others of the period inferior, excepting those of MS Harley 2253.
5") and heavily illustrated with period paintings and drawings as well as photos of extant examples, the volume includes transcriptions of the 1516 Wardrobe Book of the Wardrobe of the Robes (British Library MS Harley 2284) and the 1521 Inventory of the same (British Library MS HArley 4217).
1), British Library MS Harley 2253, and the Ellesmere Chaucer (Huntington Library MS EL 26 C9)--have been the subject of useful essay-collections by a number of hands, but although the subject of these volumes is unified, their arguments usually are not.