Billed as the “UK’s biggest ever Gothic exhibition, “Terror and Wonder, the Gothic Imagination” opens today at the British Library in central London.
Displaying two hundred rare objects, the exhibition traces 250 years of the Gothic tradition, exploring our enduring fascination with the mysterious, the terrifying and the macabre.
Being rather partial to Victorian ghost tales, spooky stories, Hammer Horror, the Batcave and all things of a dark and twisted nature, we went down and took a look around – and we liked what we saw very much indeed.
The exhibition space has been laid out in an appropriately Gothic manner, with draped black sheets shimmering as you walk past. The space starts with a walk through Horace Walpole’s ‘Gothic World.’
Walpole is largely remembered for Strawberry Hill, the fabulously extravagant home he built in Twickenham, south-west London where he revived the Gothic style some decades before his Victorian successors, and for his Gothic novel, The Castle of Otranto. [—]
There’s some wonderful first editions, manuscripts and vintage books on display.
The wonderful mini-library of the grandly named 17th century lawyer, Sir Julius Caesar, which was acquired by Walpole in 1757.
A model of Fonthill Abbey, a Gothic revival country house built by William Beckford in Wiltshire between 1796 and 1813.
Despite its grandeur, it wasn’t to last for long: the tower collapsed in 1825 and the rest of the Abbey was demolished in 1846.
The Old English Baron: a Gothic Story by Clara Reeve. Read it here.
The lavishly illustrated Tales Of Terror.
Original manuscript by William Wordsworth.
Horror movies were projected on to the walls.
Run! “Menacing nuns!”
Police News edition from 1888 reporting the ‘Whitechapel Murders.’
The exhibition covers work from the likes of Mary Shelley and Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick and Alexander McQueen, taking the Gothic story up to modern times.
1970s horror movie poster.
Vampire slaying kit!
Old poster for Hitchcock’s seminal film, ‘The Birds.’
I loved this section covering the Gothic influence on music.
Along with the Kit Kat, The Batcave was at the heart of the London Gothic scene. Based in a Soho cellar club called Gossips, read the full story of the venue here.
Martin Parr was commissioned to take photos of Whitby Goths.
Goth football team!
Projected horror movie.
The Picture Of Dorian Gray as featured in the 1890 Lippincott’s monthly magazine.
In the exhibition shop, there was all sorts of horror-themed trinkets to buy.
Terror and Wonder, the Gothic Imagination runs at the British Library, London, from 3rd October 2014 to 20th January 2015.
Price: £10 / £8 and £5 concessions / Free for under 18 year olds
To book tickets for Terror and Wonder please www.bl.uk/gothic, call 01937 546546 (Mon – Fri, 09.00 – 17.00) or buy tickets in person at the British Library.
Exhibition opening hours
Monday 10.00 – 18.00, Tuesday 10.00 – 20.00, Wednesday – Friday 10.00 – 18.00, Saturday 10.00 – 17.00, Sunday and English public holidays 11.00 – 17.00