iPlayer Radio What's New?
Image for Literature

Listen now 30 mins

Listen in pop-out player

Literature

In Our Time, The Written World Episode 4 of 5

Duration:
30 minutes
First broadcast:
Thursday 05 January 2012

Melvyn Bragg investigates how the written word, a technology originally used for accountancy, gave rise to all of human literature. He charts the emergence of poetry and history writing in the ancient world, inspects an ancient Egyptian precursor to Hamlet, and discovers how Greek literary traditions reached this country in the Middle Ages.

Producer: Thomas Morris.

  • Beowulf

    Beowulf

    The only known manuscript of Beowulf, dating from c.1000 and housed at the British Library.

    Beowulf is the longest epic poem in Old English, the language spoken in England before the Norman Conquest.

    Copyright British Library Board

    More about Beowulf, the story and the manuscript
  • Medieval parchment roll - A genealogy of the Kings of England

    Medieval parchment roll  - A genealogy of the Kings of England

    An image from a chronicle roll in French, produced in England in the fifteenth century (probably before 1413). The full roll consists of
    12 membranes (skins) of parchment (animal skin) and includes three large roundels and other illustrations. The roundel in this image shows a Wheel of Fortune with eight figures representing the 'Ages of Man' in the outer border. (Manuscript Dd.3.57)


    Copyright Cambridge University Library

  • Horae beatae Mariae Virginis - A Book of Hours

    Horae beatae Mariae Virginis - A Book of Hours

    A miniature from a book of hours, a Prayer Book widely used by the laity containing an abbreviated form of the Hours of prayer (Matins, Lauds, Prime, Tierce, Sext, None, Vespers and Compline), and other sets of psalms and prayers which were in use in their full form amongst clergy and members of religious orders.

    This is a Book of Hours of the Use of Sarum , that is, Salisbury, which was in wide use throughout much of southern England.

    The image shows the Annunciation. (Manuscript Ii.6.7)

    Copyright Cambridge University Library

  • Horae beatae Mariae Virginis - A Book of Hours

    Horae beatae Mariae Virginis - A Book of Hours

    Another miniature from a book of hours of the Use of Sarum.

    The Illumination showing the Mass of St Gregory, in which Christ appears over the altar accompanied by objects related to the crucifixion (Manuscript Ii.6.7)

    Copyright University of Cambridge Library

Broadcasts

Featured in...

  • Religion archive

    Discussion of religious movements and the theories and individuals behind them.

  • Culture archive

    Popular culture, poetry, music and visual arts and the roles they play in our society.

  • The Written Word

    A celebration of programmes and clips dedicated to the craft of writing

In Our Time Downloads

melvyn-bragg.jpg

Every episode of In Our Time - available to download to listen to when & where you want.

Free downloads

  1. Image for In Our Time Archive: Culture

    In Our Time Archive: Culture

    Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the history of ideas as it applies to culture - from literature…

  2. Image for In Our Time Archive: History

    In Our Time Archive: History

    Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the people, conflicts and events that have shaped the world.

  3. Image for In Our Time Archive: Philosophy

    In Our Time Archive: Philosophy

    Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the history of philosophy - from ancient Greek thinkers to the…

  4. Image for In Our Time Archive: Religion

    In Our Time Archive: Religion

    Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the history of religious ideas - from the faith systems of…

  5. Image for In Our Time Archive: Science

    In Our Time Archive: Science

    Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the history of ideas and the evolution of the sciences - from…

  6. Image for In Our Time With Melvyn Bragg

    In Our Time With Melvyn Bragg

    Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the history of ideas - including topics drawn from philosophy,…

Buy online

Available on: CD or Audio download

From suppliers including: Audible.co.uk, iTunes

Where to buy

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.