The Beauty of Books

Yesterday we caught up on the first episode of The Beauty of Books, the new four part BBC4 series (screening as part of their Free Your Imagination season about books).

The show focused on two books in particular, the Codex Sinaiticus and the Winchester Bible.

The Codex Sinaiticus is the oldest surviving complete New Testament, created around 350AD; and also one of the earliest surviving bound books: 800 pages of vellum, written in four equal columns of 48 lines. We learnt that it was mainly created by female scribes, using an ink created from Oak galls, which was more acidic than standard carbon inks, and therefore more resistant to rubbing off the page.
The Winchester Bible is a stunningly beautiful illuminated manuscript, created in the 12th Century, which still lives at Winchester Cathedral.

It’s a great show, we’re looking forward to the next three instalments. The next one airs on BBC4 on Monday 14 February at 8.30pm, and looks at Medieval books including the Luttrell Psalter and Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.

  • Mark

    Somewhat horrified to have seen unprotected hands and fingers turning the pages of these priceless ‘first editions’.

  • Virginia Anderson

    Nice books, nice analysis – the classical music, used as a constant background, is intolerable. Why, oh, why? I can’t watch it, despite my interest.

  • Dualtrack

    I was also horrified to see both the Codex Sinaiticus & Winchester Bible being handled without gloves. I have friends who do restoration bindings for incunabula and even they wear cotton gloves while examining and working with works of this age. This sort of treatment of such priceless works is unconscionable.

  • Mo

    Hi Guys, I was after a copy of this series BBC The Beauty of Books, or the episode on the The Codex Sinaiticus …. PLEASE tell me you have a copy, or do you know where I can get one from.


    • wemadethis

      Hey there Mo – Your best bet is probably to contact the BBC directly.