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Writing Britain: Wastelands to Wonderlands

Over 150 literary works, including many first-time loans from overseas and directly from authors: sound recordings, videos, letters, photographs, maps, song lyrics and drawings - as well as manuscripts and printed editions.

  • JRR Tolkien: original artwork for The Hobbit
  • JK Rowling: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone manuscript
  • John Lennon: draft for ‘In My Life’
  • Daphne Du Maurier: early plan for Rebecca
  • Charles Dickens: manuscript for Our Mutual Friend
  • Robert Louis Stevenson: manuscript for Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde
  • Charlotte Brontë: manuscript for Jane Eyre
  • Lewis Carroll: manuscript of 'Alice's Adventures Under Ground'
  • Sir Gawain and the Green Knight earliest manuscript
  • George Eliot: manuscript for Middlemarch
  • Kazuo Ishiguro: manuscript for The Remains of the Day
  • Hanif Kureishi: diary and manuscript for The Buddha of Suburbia
  • JG Ballard: manuscript for Crash
  • William Blake: manuscript for ‘London’
  • ‘The Seafarer’ from the 10th-century Exeter Book
  • Ted Hughes: notebook for The Remains of Elmet

Complete list of exhibits

In partnership with Atkins

  • Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales

    Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales

    This manuscript of ‘The Canterbury Tales’ describes the pilgrims who assembled in Southwark. References to the capital in the Tales are plentiful, including the Prioress, whose suspect French was learnt in the 'scole of Stratford atte Bowe'.

    Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales, early 15th century, Lansdowne MS 851 © The British Library Board

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  • William Blake's Notebook

    William Blake's Notebook

    Like the narrator of his 1792 poem 'London', William Blake would walk the streets of his neighbourhood, seeking inspiration, but alert to the signs of suffering he encountered.

    William Blake's Notebook, 1787-1817, Add. MS 49460 © The British Library Board

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  • Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 'Lakes' Notebook

    Samuel Taylor Coleridge: 'Lakes' Notebook

    A map from one of Coleridge's notebooks kept between July and September 1802, recording his solitary exploration of the mountainous landscape of the Lake District.

    Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 'Lakes' Notebook, 1802 © The British Library Board
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  • vLewis Carroll, 'Alice's Adventures Under Ground'

    Lewis Carroll, 'Alice's Adventures Under Ground'

    The Thames was an inspiration for one of the greatest children's classics – Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, here seen in its first handwritten version

    Lewis Carroll, 'Alice's Adventures Under Ground', 1865, Add. MS 46700 © The British Library Board

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  • Laurie Lee, Cider with Rosie

    Laurie Lee, Cider with Rosie

    One of the great nostalgic paeans to rural life, Cider with Rosie is an autobiographical account of Laurie Lee's childhood in Slad, Gloucestershire.

    Laurie Lee, Cider with Rosie, 1959, Add. MS 88936/2/25 © United Agents on behalf of the Estate of Laurie Lee

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  • Ted Hughes and Fay Godwin, Remains of Elmet

    Ted Hughes and Fay Godwin, Remains of Elmet

    Ted Hughes spent his earliest years in the Calder Valley in West Yorkshire (the ancient Celtic kingdom of Elmet), and celebrated the area in a collaboration with photographer Fay Godwin.

    Ted Hughes and Fay Godwin, Remains of Elmet, 1979 © Fay Godwin

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  • Angela Carter, Wise Children

    Angela Carter, Wise Children

    After time in Japan, Carter settled in south London, and Wise Children is a lament for a lost London and a celebration of the dizzying linguistic richness of its inhabitants.

    Angela Carter, Wise Children, 1991, Add. MS 88899/1/16 © Angela Carter. Reproduced by permission of the Estate of Angela Carter

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