Ter­ror and Won­der The Gothic Imag­i­na­tions

From Ho­race to Hell­raiser

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Videogames/ miscellaneous -

Open un­til 20 Jan­uary

Venue: The Bri­tish Li­brary £ 10 adults, £ 8 over- 60s, £ 5 other con­ces­sions, un­der- 16s free

Imag­ine you had to make

a list of iconic gothic nov­els – the best of the best. Well, the Bri­tish Li­brary did just that, and has put books, manuscripts and many other in­ter­est­ing cu­rios on dis­play in its lat­est ex­hi­bi­tion.

It’s ar­ranged chrono­log­i­cally, start­ing with Ho­race Walpole’s 1764 book The Cas­tle of Otranto; an elab­o­rate mir­ror from Walpole’s home is one of the first things to greet you. Chat­ter­ton, Beck­ford, Ann Rad­cliffe and their con­tem­po­raries swiftly follow. Franken­stein is the next mile­stone. As well as the man­u­script there are let­ters by By­ron and John Poli­dori, and a sto­ry­board from Ham­mer’s Franken­stein And The Mon­ster from Hell. Vic­to­rian con­tri­bu­tions in­clude Dick­ens, Le Fanu and the Brontes, and Penny Dread­fuls, in­clud­ing Var­ney The Vam­pire. Most of the ex­hi­bi­tion has a Bri­tish con­nec­tion – Poe is sneaked in as he spent some time in Eng­land.

Drac­ula gets a room to it­self, with books that in­spired Stoker, his orig­i­nal play man­u­script, set de­signs by Ed­ward Gorey, a Ham­mer sto­ry­board and cos­tume de­signs for Frank Lan­gella, plus a “Vic­to­rian” vam­pire hunter’s kit ( prob­a­bly put to­gether a cen­tury later).

The 20th cen­tury is well cov­ered too; stand­out items in­clude Stephen King’s type­script for The Shin­ing, and Clive Barker’s Hell­raiser screen­play. After a brief look at the gothic sub­cul­ture, you re­join a bright world where the shad­ows seem just a lit­tle darker… Miriam McDon­ald There’s a dis­cus­sion of the genre with au­thors Kim New­man, Sarah Wa­ters and DBC Pierre, on Wed­nes­day 3 De­cem­ber.

Vam­pire hunt­ing, the classy way.

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