Making Your Mark

Today at Hay, British Library curator Adrian Edwards gave a fascinating insight into the creation of the new exhibition Writing: Making Your Mark, which runs until late August 2019. He explained how he and his team chose exhibits covering 4,000 years, from a recent donation of limestone rock on which is inscribed a hymn to Osiris, god of the underworld, to modern technological advances ('from hieroglyphics to emojis'), and asked the question, "What will happen to writing in the future?"

The earliest examples of writing are from 5,200 years ago in southern Mesopotamia – modern day Iraq – and in Egypt, China and Mesoamerica. A vast stone of yet not fully deciphered Mayan script of 647 from Belize, on display for the first time, reports the destruction of monuments and people being conquered. Another is a label in Greek that would have been attached to a mummified body, giving a woman’s name and the location of where she is to be buried.

A major draw is the first major book printed in Britain, using metal ‘moveable’ type, by William Caxton in 1477 –Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales.

Hay Festival and the British Library have a partnership that grows each year. The Hay Festival archive was shared with the British Library for cataloguing and preservation on our 30th anniversary. For the past two years Hay Festival has live-streamed events to the British Library’s Living Knowledge Network on days of events shared with libraries throughout the country.

For all audio and film recordings of Hay Festival events please visit Hay Player.