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What’s on: Terror and Wonder at the British Library

Oct 24, 2014

by Natalie Wall handmade and vintage goods

A frightfully good exhibition has opened at the British Library. Terror and Wonder is the UK’s largest display of Gothic literature, marking 250 years since the first ever Gothic novel, The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole, caused a sensation and inspired the new genre.

Terror and Wonder celebrates the many literary masterpieces produced in Britain ever since, as well as modern interpretations of the Gothic in pop culture today.

Terror and Wonder

Handwritten drafts of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Bram Stoker’s Dracula are contrasted with the modern horrors of Clive Barker’s Hellraiser and the Twilight TV series exploring how this genre continues to be an important reflection of society’s attitudes, angst and fears.

Fuseli Nightmare

British LIbrary

Gothis poster

British Library

Bride of Frankenstein

British Library

Highlights of the exhibition also include the dark and Gothic-inspired artworks of influential painters, including Henry Fuseli, William Blake and Philip James de Loutherbourg, contrasted against modern art and photography, costumes and movies, from the Chapman Brothers to Stanley Kubrick.

The exhibition also includes fashion by Alexander McQueen, Martin Parr’s photographs of contemporary Goths in Whitby, as well as Wallace and Gromit’s surprisingly scary Were-Rabbit.

There’s even a Victorian vampire slaying kit, complete with holy water and stakes.

Vampire Killing Kit

Go and experience 250 years of Gothic’s dark shadow – enter if you dare…

Terror and Wonder runs until 20th January 2015. Tickets £10 (concessions available).
Visit for more info.

Inspired to sell your work on Etsy? Opening an Etsy shop is simple. Get started with 20 free listings by entering the code: BRITISHLIBRARYFREE at (new sellers only).

Cultures of the Dark Side: A Day of Gothic Music and Fashion
Sunday 9th November, 11.45-19.30, Conference Centre
From subculture to high culture, this day of talks, discussions and performances is a celebration of alternative style and music. Participants will include music journalists John Robb and David Quantick plus special musical guests; innovative designers, fashion experts Amber Jane Butchart and Catherine Spooner, graphic artist Dave McKean and many others. There’ll be a  market place, demonstrations, workshops and more

1 Featured Comment

  • natwonderwall Admin

    Natalie Wall said 5 years ago Featured

    Hey guys! The third image is a 1781 oil painting by Anglo-Swiss artist Henry Fuseli called The Nightmare. Make sure you don't have any, after looking at this!


  • PatternVault

    Sarah from PatternVault said 5 years ago

    Awesome! Wish I could attend the exhibition...

  • jalyson

    Jane Zing Vintage from ZingVintage said 5 years ago

    Can't help but wonder, as a vintage seller and morbidly curious person, whether the vampire-hunting kit is in mint condition or not? *cue suspenseful music*

  • kikkik

    Nicola Hallas said 5 years ago

    Where did image 1 and 3 come from. Fascinating.

  • DesirVale

    Désir Vale from DesirVale said 5 years ago

    It would be interesting to visit the exhibition :)

  • annecorr1

    anne corr from modestly said 5 years ago

    Great for inspiration!

  • LunarCrafts

    Sylvia Forster from LunarCrafts said 5 years ago

    Great for all things that get you wondering about all that is on the dark side imagination and all that get you wondering.

  • LunarCrafts

    Sylvia Forster from LunarCrafts said 5 years ago

    Would love to see this collection of mystery and Gothic horror

  • hdanielsart

    Holly's Wares from HollysArtyCreations said 5 years ago

    The British Library never gets it wrong! Loved the political cartoon exhibition and the graphic novel exhibit they had on, not so long ago.

  • DerwentTextiles

    Rose Marie from DerwentArt said 5 years ago

    Interesting Review thanks very much ! Hope to get there with a daughter on my trip over Christmas ....

  • CinnabarAndSienna

    Richard Harvey Allsop from CinnabarAndSienna said 5 years ago

    GREAT REVIEW ;0)))))

  • textilechicken

    textilechicken from textilechicken said 5 years ago

    Thanks for the review.

  • DesirVale

    Désir Vale from DesirVale said 5 years ago

    Great review :)

  • kikkik

    Nicola Hallas said 5 years ago

    I want to know more about picture 3. Fascinating.

  • printsofheart

    Lisa from PrintsOfHeart said 5 years ago

    The Nightmare, my all time favourite painting!! I must get around to seeing it in the flesh at some point ♥

  • natwonderwall Admin

    Natalie Wall said 5 years ago Featured

    Hey guys! The third image is a 1781 oil painting by Anglo-Swiss artist Henry Fuseli called The Nightmare. Make sure you don't have any, after looking at this!

  • WoodsyWools

    ACR from WoodsyWools said 5 years ago

    Interesting, spooky pieces ! :-)

  • LeonardoDaVintage

    Leonardo da Vintage from LeonardoDaVintage said 5 years ago

    I've been to this exhibition! Highly recommended. Sorry to dispell the illusion, but the vampire kit is not exactly authentic... according to the exhibition text, the objects in it are Victorian, but the kit was put together in the 1970s. They also said they had found no earlier reference to such vampire kits - I got the impression there was a craze for them in the 70s. So, appropriately enough for a exhibition about literature, it's another fiction. And what a great piece of fiction it is! I'm sure it has fooled many people.

  • WaggyWear

    Linda Kennedy from CrystalMoonCat said 5 years ago

    I've been to see the exhibition too. Loved it - they have the original manuscript of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein with annotations in the margin by her husband. Also there is a letter allegedly from Jack the Ripper to the police telling them he was going to cut off part of the ear of his next victim. The police found a body the next day with an earlobe missing! Fascinating to see in the flesh so to speak two scripts with so much history attached. The Were Rabbit model was cute, if they had had a replica of this in their shop I would have bought it no problem!

  • catchaleaf

    eva andrews from catchaleaf said 5 years ago

    Appreciate the review, it sounds deliciously spooky. Hope to find time for a visit.

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