By Shelley Marsden
MANUSCRIPTS from Irish author Oscar Wilde join other literary greats in a new website which sees the British Library post its greatest literary treasures online.
Focusing on Romantic and Victorian authors, the British Library has posted over 1000 items on the website, Discovering Literature – including the manuscripts not only of Wilde but of Blake, Wordsworth, Shelley, Keats, Austen, Dickens, the largest collection of childhood writings of the Brontë sisters and other artefacts which shed new light on their life and works.
The website has been launched as a survey has revealed that more than 500 English teachers reveals that most think secondary school students ‘find it hard to identify’ with classic authors, and 86% say that classic literature risks being underappreciated by today’s students unless more is done to inspire them.
The website boasts images of handwritten manuscripts, diaries, letters and other materials belonging to iconic authors alongside original documents from the time they lived in, such as newspaper clippings, adverts and photographs, intended to bring their world – and their literary works – to life in a new, tech-friendly way.
Roger Walshe, Head of Public Engagement and Learning at the British Library, said: “The launch of Discovering Literature enables lovers of literature to come face-to-face with some of our most treasured collections online anywhere in the world.
He added: “From a handwritten manuscript by Charles Dickens or Emily Brontë, to a lock of Shelley’s hair or a newspaper clipping from Dickensian London, at the British Library we know from our daily work with young people how contact with original materials can bring to life a novel or poem written centuries ago.
“The students of today make the readers of tomorrow and we want to inspire the next generation of readers with this fantastic digital offering.”
You can visit Discovering Literature at www.bl.uk/discovering-literature.