Last chance to see Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination at the British Library

  • Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination ends 20 January 2015

Now in its final weeks, Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination explores Gothic culture’s roots in British literature and celebrates 250 years since the publication of the first Gothic novel.

Alongside the manuscripts of classic novels such as Frankenstein, Dracula and Jane Eyre, the 'perversely enlightening' exhibition brings the dark and macabre to life with artefacts, old and new. Highlights of the exhibition include a vampire slaying kit and 18th and 19th century Gothic fashions, as well as one of Alexander McQueen's iconic catwalk creations. Also on display is a model of the Wallace and Gromit Were-Rabbit, showing how Gothic literature has inspired varied and colourful aspects of popular culture in exciting ways over centuries.

Celebrating how British writers have pioneered the genre, Terror and Wonder takes the first Gothic novel, The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole, and exhibits treasures from the Library's collections to carry the story forwards to the present day. Eminent authors over the last 250 years, including William Blake, Ann Radcliffe, Mary Shelley, Charles Dickens, the Brontës, Edgar Allan Poe, Bram Stoker, MR James, Mervyn Peake, Angela Carter and Neil Gaiman, underpin the exhibition’s exploration of how Gothic fiction has evolved and influenced film, fashion, music, art and the Goth subculture.

Lead curator of the exhibition, Tim Pye, says: “Gothic is one the most popular and influential modes of literature and I’m delighted that Terror and Wonder is celebrating its rich 250 year history. The exhibition features an amazingly wide range of material, from stunningly beautiful medieval artefacts to vinyl records from the early Goth music scene, so there is truly something for everyone”.

From Nosferatu to the most recent zombie thrillers, the exhibition uses movie clips, film posters, costume designs and props to show how Gothic themes and literature have been adapted for stage and screen, propelling characters like Dracula, Jekyll and Hyde and Frankenstein's monster to mainstream fame. Exciting exhibits on loan to the Library include Clive Barker's original film script and sketches for Hellraiser, as well as Stanley Kubrick's annotated typescript of The Shining.

Showing how Gothic fiction has inspired great art, the exhibition features fine paintings and prints, such as Henry Fuseli's 'Hamlet, Prince of Denmark' and Nathaniel Grogan’s 'Lady Blanche Crosses the Ravine', a scene taken directly from the 'Queen of Terror' Ann Radcliffe's The Mysteries of Udolpho. These classic images precede dramatic contemporary artworks, such as Jake and Dinos Chapman's series 'Exquisite Corpse', showing how the dark and gruesome still inspire today's artists.

Celebrating the British Goth scene, we are delighted to include a brand new series of photographs of the Whitby Goth Weekend by the award-winning photographer Martin Parr. Commissioned specially for this exhibition, the photographs take a candid look at the biannual event, which takes place in the town famously featured in Dracula, capturing its diversity and energy.

Events accompanying the exhibition include Scary Tales with Chris Priestly, Chris Riddell and Sally Gardner discussing Gothic young adult fiction. A full list of events can be found online here.

Earlier this year the Library announced that we are putting our literary treasures online for the world to see with a new website, Discovering Literature. Many of the Gothic literary greats featuring in the exhibition, including the Brontës, Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins, can be explored amongst the Romantic and Victorian literature now available online.

A full set of press images can be found here.  / #BLGothic / @blpressoffice


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Notes to Editors

Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination runs until 20 January 2015 at the British Library.

Price: £10 / £8 and £5 concessions / Free for Under 18s

Booking information

To book tickets for Terror and Wonder visit , 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

*Late night openings will be announced in January

All galleries are accessible by wheelchair. Information can be requested from Visitor Services staff on: T +44 (0)20 7412 7332.

Events programme

A full events programme can be found on our What’s On pages.

To book tickets for events please visit, call 01937 546546 (Mon - Fri, 09.00 - 17.00) or buy tickets in person at the British Library unless stated otherwise.


An exciting new publication has been released to coincide with the exhibition. Edited by lecturer and author Dale Townshend and featuring original essays written by major scholars of Gothic literature, the book Terror and Wonder provides a compelling and comprehensive overview of the Gothic imagination over the past 250 years.

May 2014 / 9780712357357 / 9780712357753

£25.00 (PB) / £35.00 (HB) 288 x 245 mm, 192 pages

120 colour illustrations


A brand new Gothic-inspired product range has also been developed available in the British Library shop

For more information:

Evenings and weekends:
+44 (0) 20 7412 7150

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