Series combining human stories, expert interviews, book illustrations and historic archive to reveal the beauty of books
The British Library in London is home to 14 million books, on shelves that stretch over 600km. Extraordinary vessels of ideas and knowledge, they testify to the love affair we have with books. This series explores the enduring appeal and importance of books from a 4th century bible to present day paperbacks.
The medieval era was the heyday of illuminated manuscripts. In the 14th and 15th centuries, there was a flowering of religious texts set into beautifully-decorated pages. Among these devotional books were psalters, or books of psalms. Hundreds of these were produced, but the Luttrell Psalter is remarkable for its whimsical, humorous and vivid pictures of rural life and a demonic world that is terrifying and grotesque.
The Victorians were masters of illustrated books, especially for children. Thanks to an emerging middle class readership, new printing technology and a sentimentalised regard for childhood, fairy tales and fantasy fiction containing words and pictures grew into an established genre.