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Discover the secrets of Georgian Britain
John Nash, The Royal Pavilion at Brighton, 1827. Public Domain via British Library.
Using books, newspapers, advertisements, artwork, and artefacts from the British Library's unique collections, this exhibition reveals the true characteristics of Georgian life during a time of immense social, artistic, and technological change.
The Georgian era derives its name from the four kings who reigned between 1714 to 1830 (George I, George II, George III, and George IV). The period was a revolutionary time - very literally in the case of the Industrial, Agricultural, and American Revolutions - but also in the areas of society, literature, fashion, philosophy, culture, and communication. It was a time of great expansion for the British empire and great change in British life.
These changes are well-recorded in the works of major figures from the area, including the Romantic poets (Coleridge, Wordsworth, Keats, Byron), social reformers (William Wilberforce, John Wesley, John Newton), artists (Constable, Turner), and writers (Swift, Edmund Burke, Mary Wollstonecraft, David Hume). The exhibition illustrates these powerful developments, as well as their links with modern culture, using both famous and everyday objects from the period.
The exhibition will run from the 8th November, 2013 to 11th March, 2014. Tickets are on sale soon at the British Library. £10 for Adults (concessions available). Under 18s are free. See the official website for further details.
Main Entrance. Photo by Oxyman.
In addition to the exhibition, the library has a number of permanent displays. The Sir John Ritblat Gallery contains over 200 rare and famous items from the library's collection. These include historical objects, such as the oldest surviving English document (7th century), the earliest English Old Testament (11th century), The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (5 of 7 copies are held by the library), and dozens of illuminated manuscripts and sacred texts from across the world. The Magna Carta (13th century) with articles of the Barons is also on display in a separate room. Despite their great age, several of the documents still have their original intact wax seals and ribbons.
Other items on display in the Ritblat Gallery include volumes from Shakespeare, Milton, and Dryden, as well as musical compositions from Mozart, Purcell, and Hayden. There are hand-drawn images from the notebooks of Da Vinci and Durer, letters from Churchill, and hand-written lyrics to Help and Yesterday by the Beatles.
Entrance to the main library and Ritblat Gallery is free.