The purpose was to re-discover the written word in what is becoming an area deemed to be as collectible and as valuable as the traditional arts & antiques. Around 98% of the items on display are from the British Library’s own collection and cover a wide range of genres and periods.
The exhibition has been put together as part of the culturual Olympiad of 2012 and covers many areas of British life which have been used as inspiration in many written works. This also translates to certain places which have been transformed by the written word themselves.
Working through medeival manuscripts, nostalgia era countryside poems to suburban Britain and modern day fantasy there is works representing many different periods, subjects and authors and helps contribute to a mixed and varied view of Britain through the ages.
Key highlights which drew attention from most of the guests were:
- JRR Tolkien: original artwork for The Hobbit
- JK Rowling: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone manuscript
- Charles Dickens: manuscript for Our Mutual Friend
- Kazuo Ishiguro: manuscript for The Remains of the Day
- ‘The Seafarer’ from the 10th-century Exeter Book
One book that caught my eye was Reverend Charles Kingsley’s “Waterbabies” which was written in 1862/63 and is a Victorian novel for children which has underlying content to encourage and shape the values of the Victorian children. The page which was open and on display included the below image and the page of text made reference to “what a gentleman ought to be”.
The exhibition runs until 25 September and is well worth a visit. For more details and to book tickets visit: http://www.bl.uk/whatson/exhibitions/writingbritain/about/