British Library offers app entrepreneurs 65,000 19th Century classics in IC tomorrow Digital Innovation Contest

Classics Lorna Doone, East Lynne and Aurora Floyd among titles offered to UK digital entrepreneurs in Technology Strategy Board programme

3nd March, 2011: The British Library has today made 65,000 largely out-of-print 19th Century titles available to entrepreneurs building applications within the IC tomorrow Digital Innovation Contest. Originally digitised in partnership with Microsoft Livesearch, countless forgotten literary gems covering philosophy, history, poetry and literature – over 25 million pages of content, will be made accessible to the £200,000 contest participants, aimed at helping entrepreneurs bring innovative UK digital applications to market.

The Digital Innovation Contest is investing in up to 20 consumer trials across creative market sectors including Music, TV/Film, and Publishing. Panels of leading digital content industry figures will help decide which applicants to support. Each successful entrant will receive up to £10,000 to help work towards a six month consumer trial on the IC tomorrow digital test bed programme.

IC tomorrow’s digital test bed, a Technology Strategy Board programme, enables content owners and application developers – for example, businesses with a new service, new business model or new way of deploying hardware or software technology – to trial their ideas with UK consumers.

Estimates suggest that roughly 35% to 40% of the British Library's 19th century British printed collections are either unique, or at least inaccessible through other major libraries in the UK and abroad. Covering the likes of Dickens, Austen, and Conan Doyle, the 65,000 titles also include classics such as, Lorna Doone by Richard Doddridge Blackmore, a historical romance set in north-east Exmoor at the time of the Monmouth rebellion in the late 17th Century, and East Lynne by Ellen Wood, a melodrama tackling the Matrimonial Causes Act of 1857.

Richard Boulderstone, British Library director of e-strategy and information systems, commented: “The British Library's partnership with IC tomorrow is unlocking hidden gems of literature and allowing entrepreneurs in the UK to create innovative ways for new generations of consumers to experience these great historic works.”

Other digital content providers participating in the contest include Beggars Group, Crytek UK, EMI Music, Endemol, Faber & Faber, FremantleMedia, Getty Images, Haymarket Media Group, Lionsgate, PRS For Music, Sony Music, The Orchard, Universal Music and Warner Music.

Dr Nick Appleyard, head of digital at the Technology Strategy Board, added: “By offering digitised content into the IC tomorrow programme, The British Library is extending its ability to connect with new audiences and supporting UK entrepreneurs to develop innovative ways to commercialise creative content.”

The application deadline for the submission of a video and simple business case will close on the 11th March 2011. Approximately 40 applications will be chosen to go through to the final face to face panel session phase at the end of March.

To register interest & sign up to the contest, applicants should visit the IC tomorrow site at www.tinyurl.com/ict-contest or https://ktn.innovateuk.org/web/ic-tomorrow-digital-innovation-contest


Notes to Editors:

Classic titles included in the programme include:

Lorna Doone, 1869, by Richard Doddridge Blackmore

Richard Doddridge Blackmore (1825-1900) was an unsuccessful lawyer who made a living from fruit-farming and as a writer, based in Teddington. ‘Lorna Doone’ was first published in three volumes in 1869 in an edition of 500, which sold only 300 copies, but the cheaper 1870 one volume edition became a bestseller and has never been out of print. Set in north-east Exmoor at the time of the Monmouth rebellion in the late 17th Century, yeoman farmer John Ridd recounts his courtship Lorna Doone and the Ridd-Doone feud. Blackmore emphasized natural history (e.g. John saving sheep) and dialogue and dialect in this formative regional historical romance. As a former student of the classics, many of Blackmore’s novels have an archetypal dimension: Lorna can be seen as Persphone. It is possible the marriage of Lorna to John is the submission of aristocratic power to the middle-class work ethic

East Lynne (1861), by Ellen Wood

Ellen Wood (1814-1887), known as Mrs Henry Wood, began writing short fiction because of straitened financial circumstances. ‘East Lynne’ was first serialized in Ainsworth’s ‘New Monthly Magazine’ and became the most successful melodramatic novel of the period with Bentley printing over 400,000 copies and stage adaptations were an additional lucrative form of revenue. It dramatized issues of the day, such as Matrimonial Causes Act (1857), and at one point Lady Isobel Vane poses as the governess to her own children.

Aurora Floyd (1862), by Mary Elizabeth Braddon

Mary Elizabeth Braddon (1835-1915) used writing to escape genteel poverty. Her association with the married ‘penny dreadful’ publisher, John Maxwell, scandalized Victorian society. Her sensational ‘bigamy’ novel, ‘Lady Audley’s Secret’ (1862) was a great success and Braddon would become known as the queen of the circulating libraries (such as Mudies and the Library Company), earning on average £2000 a novel. She published over 80 novels. ‘Aurora Floyd’ was a rapid follow-up to ‘Lady Audley’s Secret’, involving bigamy, murder of the returning husband and Aurora horsewhipping a groom. It too was a tremendous success, allowing Braddon to purchase Lichfield House, Richmond.

Additional information and synopsis are also available for 23 other classic titles made available in the programme.

1. Full entry details on the Digital Innovation Content can be downloaded here.

2. Companies and other organisations seeking further information about IC tomorrow should visit the www.ictomorrow.co.uk, email support@ictomorrow.co.uk, or phone on 0300 321 4358.

For more information contact:

  • Miki Lentin
  • The British Library
  • t:+44 (0) 20 7412 7112
  • m:+44 (0) 7976 793 666
  • f:+44 (0) 20 7412 7168
  • e: miki.lentin@bl.uk


The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom and one of the world's greatest research libraries. It provides world class information services to the academic, business, research and scientific communities and offers unparalleled access to the world's largest and most comprehensive research collection. The Library's collection has developed over 250 years and exceeds 150 million separate items representing every age of written civilisation and includes books, journals, manuscripts, maps, stamps, music, patents, photographs, newspapers and sound recordings in all written and spoken languages. Up to 10 million people visit the British Library website - www.bl.uk - every year where they can view up to 4 million digitised collection items and over 40 million pages.  

The Technology Strategy Board is a business-led government body, which works to create economic growth by ensuring that the UK is a global leader in innovation. Sponsored by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), the Technology Strategy Board brings together business, research and the public sector, supporting and accelerating the development of innovative products and services to meet market needs, tackle major societal challenges and help build the future economy. For more information please visit: www.innovateuk.org


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