It’s an interesting question, isn’t it? We’ve become so used to literature in written form for thousands of years that it’s difficult to think that this may not always be the case. Yet delving into history reveals that in some respects written literature has taken many different forms over the centuries.
I’m currently undertaking a course at the Bishopsgate Institute in London called A History of Print and Printing, and it is quite a shock to be confronted with the fact that literature as we understand it was unavailable for many years for many people. The reasons were that either it didn’t exist, didn’t exist in English, or was too expensive. (One book we looked at, for example, would have cost a labourer the equivalent of 3 years’ income.)
I’ve been re-reading a book called The Written World, which I mentioned in a previous article, and reviewed for an educational magazine (but which has not been published online as far as I can tell). And now I’m delighted to say that the British Library has an exhibition coming up in April 2019 called Writing: Making Your Mark. The blurb contains some fascinating statements and provocative questions:
Our interactive exhibition gives you the chance to reflect on works of genius that wouldn’t exist without the writing traditions of civilisations past.
Will we abandon pens and keyboards for voice and video messaging, or continue to carry the traditions of ancient times with us?
This promises to be an exciting exploration into the ‘how’ of writing over the years. Here is where to find the details: