Broadcaster and arts presenter Melvyn Bragg fronts this five-part BBC Radio 4 series about the far-reaching influence of the written word. In this absorbing series, Melvyn Bragg investigates the origins of writing from its first appearance almost 6000 years ago and looks at how it has shaped the world's intellectual history. Focussing on ancient artefacts - tablets, books and manuscripts - he looks at some turning points in the history of the written word. Starting with the very earliest writing system, cuneiform from Mesopotamia, he discovers how making signs on clay, wood or parchment enabled the development of human culture. He considers the impact of the invention of the book, examining the earliest intact surviving example in the Western world, the St Cuthbert Gospel. Studying other ancient sacred texts, he investigates the role of writing in the spread of religion; while mediaeval parchments help him to chart how the written word gave rise to all of human literature. Finally, he looks at some influential documents, including the student tebooks of Sir Isaac Newton, and reflects on how writing contributed to the development of modern science, ultimately making the scientific revolution of the Enlightenment possible.