Terror and Wonder The Gothic Imaginations
From Horace to Hellraiser
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.