Terror and Wonder at the British Library

If you’re interested in gothic literature, the British Library is currently running an exhibition called Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination.

From the birth of the vampire to Frankenstein’s monster, from creepy houses to cobwebs and capes and from driving rain to flashes of lightening and roaring thunder, it has it all. The setting and the lighting, combined with the natural hush of a library, all contributed to a brilliantly creepy atmosphere and there was an amazing selection of rare and old books and notes on display.

The first part of the exhibition focused on how the ‘gothic’ theme really came into being, with a focus on the first gothic texts. While this gave me some good ideas for potential reading material, I really enjoyed the second part of the exhibition, which looked at gothic in the Victorian times all the way through to the impact of gothic style on modern clothing, film and culture. Particular highlights for me were the handwritten draft of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, the vampire slaying kit and an original newspaper with illustrations and speculation on Jack the Ripper.

I also really liked seeing how the gothic theme is still being given a new lease of life today for children and teenagers, both in literature and in popular culture. The ever popular Twilight series made an appearance, alongside Coraline or even Lemony Snicket’s a Series of Unfortunate Events.

The inclusion of Victorian mourning dress next to what we now think of as ‘goth’ clothing was really interesting and there were some great photographs that also helped to give the exhibition a more modern element.

If you’re interested in going, ‘Terror and Wonder’ is on until 20 January, so you still have a few days left to catch it!

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One thought on “Terror and Wonder at the British Library

  1. Pingback: Giving a classic new life | The Stacked Shelf

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