'Terror and Wonder' is a new exhibition at the British Library in London that traces 250 years of the Gothic tradition, exploring our enduring fascination with the mysterious, the terrifying and the macabre.
Some 200 objects are on show including a copy of Horace Walpole's 'The Castle of Otranto' published in 1764, generally regarded as the first Gothic novel. Many have since followed, including Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’, which is probably the best known.
“One of the key pieces in the exhibition is a manuscript of ‘Dracula’ in Stoker’s own hand. It’s a dramatised version that he produced to protect the copyright of his story. And he had it read through on stage a few weeks before the novel was released. It just goes to show that Stoker already knew that his story might well be popular,” says Tim Pye, lead curator of the exhibition.
Over time, the literary Gothic translated into every media form, from music to fashion, art and cinema.
The artefacts on show include a mix of old and new, such as an 18th century vampire slaying kit as well as one of Alexander McQueen’s iconic catwalk creations.
“One of our major sections in the exhibition looks at the period from 1900 up to the present day. And we see that in that contemporary period, Gothic is going in many different directions. So there is rarely a week that goes by without another horror film that has a lot of Gothic elements in it,” says Tim Pye.
Opening just in time for Halloween, ‘Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination’ runs at London’s British Library until January 20 2015.