Metropolitan Ervin Szabó Library: Budapest’s Beautiful Palace Library

An oak-panelled library with a spiral staircase, chandelier and yellow armchairs

Not every library begins life as a former palace, but the Metropolitan Ervin Szabó Library in Budapest, Hungary, is no ordinary institution. Complete with gilded interiors, floor-to-ceiling mirrors and ornate chandeliers, the library is a beloved spot for researchers and students alike. Its story stretches back to 1887, when aristocrats Count Frigyes Wenckheim and his […]

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The Vinegar Bible and the history of the English Bible

Vinegar Bible at St Mary's Chiddingstone

Nestled close to the altar of St Mary’s Church in Chiddingstone in Kent is a Bible with an extraordinary story. Known as the ‘Vinegar Bible,’ this rare edition of the King James Bible takes its name from a misspelling of ‘the parable of the vineyard’ in Luke 20:9 as ‘the parable of the vinegar.’ While […]

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The best bookshops to visit in London

Exterior of London Review Bookshop

There’s nothing like perusing the shelves of a bookshop in search of your next read. From creaking 18th century bookshops to stores with cafes and exhibition spaces, London’s bookshops are packed with charm and charisma. Here, discover just some of the capital’s best places for book shopping. Daunt Books, Marylebone Complete with oak galleries, skylights […]

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Forgotten voices – Early Medieval Women’s Writing

Whitby Abbey

From coded manuscripts to commissioned texts, a new book shines a spotlight on the overlooked works of early medieval women writers. Marie de France, Margery Kempe and Julian of Norwich feature prominently in accounts of medieval women’s writing, but when did English women’s writing begin? This was a question that intrigued Diane Watt when she […]

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What is Magna Carta?

Writ in Water installation at Runnymede

On 15 June 1215, a document was sealed in the meadow of Runnymede, which would become a powerful symbol of democracy and individual liberties. Known as Magna Carta ­– meaning ‘The Great Charter’ ­– the legal document established the principle that everybody, including the king, was accountable to the law. The granting of the charter […]

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Exploring Agatha Christie’s Greenway

Greenway National Trust

In 1938, Agatha Christie and her second husband, the archaeologist Max Mallowan, bought their beloved holiday home, Greenway, in South Devon. Surrounded by woodland, and with views over the River Dart, the house was described by Christie as ‘the loveliest place in the world.’ While Christie seldom wrote at Greenway, she edited her manuscripts here, […]

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Literary places to visit in London

Shakespeare's Globe

For centuries, London’s streets and landmarks have shaped the lives and works of writers. Authors including Charles Dickens, William Shakespeare and Virginia Woolf have immortalised the city in their works, documenting life in the capital. From historic pubs and churches to writers’ houses and Royal Parks, discover some of the places that celebrate London’s literary […]

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The life of Julian of Norwich

Julian of Norwich stained glass Norwich Cathedral

She was one of medieval England’s most radical thinkers, yet her writings remained unknown for centuries. Born in 1343, Julian of Norwich was the first known woman to write a book in English – a potentially life-threatening endeavour. This was a time when society condemned women’s writing and heretics could be burnt at the stake […]

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Beautiful medieval manuscripts

The Book of Durrow

From bibles and prayer books to bestiaries and herbals, medieval manuscripts demonstrate extraordinary diversity in subject matter and decoration. The term ‘medieval manuscript’ refers to books that were made in Europe between the fifth and fifteenth centuries. These were produced by hand and were typically written on either vellum (the skin of a cow) or […]

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The Chained Library at Hereford Cathedral

Chained Library Hereford Cathedral

Giving off serious Hogwarts vibes, Hereford Cathedral’s Chained Library is the largest of its kind in the world. Home to 1,500 texts, including 229 medieval manuscripts, the Chained Library is a surviving example of a once popular security system in European libraries. During the Medieval and Early Modern period, books were seen as valuable commodities, […]

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