Fantasy: Realms of Imagination Exhibition at The British Library

Dragons, goblins, giants, and fairies. Set out on an epic quest, delve deep into the world of fantasy and learn how fantasy creators imagined enchanted lands, legendary creatures, and whole new languages. The British Library’s new exhibition invites you for an epic adventure into the ‘Realms of Imagination’.

 

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♬ Fairytale (From “Shrek”) – Geek Music

  

From Fairy Tales and Folklore to Lord of the Rings

 

Fantasy - Realms of Imagination

Photo: Urban Adventurer

 

  

Fantasy genre has always been one of the most popular genres when it comes to storytelling. Stories about dragons, witches, fairies, and mermaids have always been part of the human culture as a source of entertainment, inspiration and sometimes even fear.

 

Have you ever wondered, where these mythical creatures and fantastic stories came from? Where are there origins and why are they still so popular that they inspire TV series, movies, books, and video games even today?

 

Unsurprisingly, – given the venue – most of the ‘Fantasy: Realms of Imagination’ exhibition items are books and manuscripts. It means that this exhibition is a more traditional, museum-style presentation of items which you might want to keep in mind if you’re planning to bring kids.

 

Here are some of the highlights of the exhibit:

 

 

One of the most fascinating items on display is definitely ‘An Ancient Mappe of Fairyland’ created by Bernard Sleigh in the early 20th century. If you’re a lover of fantasy world and mythical creatures, you’ll definitely want to take a closer look on this map.

 Click here for a zoomable version.

 

A copy from the late 10th-early 11th century of the old ‘Beowulf'

‘Beowulf’ –  late 10th/early 11th century

Photo: Urban Adventurer

 

A copy from the late 10th/early 11th century of the old epic English poem, ‘Beowulf’ is also on display. The poem consists of 3,182 alliterative lines and this is one of the most important and most often translated works of Old English literature.

 

The original Manuscript of ‘Coraline’ by Neil Gaiman

The original manuscript of ‘Coraline’ by Neil Gaiman

Photo: Urban Adventurer

 

 

If you’re more fascinated by contemporary writers, books, and stories, you’ll definitely want to see the original manuscript of ‘Coraline’ by Neil Gaiman. The book was first published in 2002, and the story of a young girl, Coraline Jones who finds a passage to a sinister alternative version of her own reality, was released as a stop-motion animation movie in 2009.

 

Map of Narnia - Fantasy - Realms of Imagination

Map of Narnia

Photo: Urban Adventurer

 

 

There is a draft of the map of Narnia drawn by C.S. Lewis. He sent this map to the series’ illustrator Pauline Baynes who produced the final version of the map for ‘Prince Caspian’ in 1951. Lewis wrote Baynes that he wanted a medieval style map with mountains and castles drawn on it, wind blowing on the corners and a few heraldic-looking ships.

 

Next to the map, you’ll find C.S. Lewis’s original hand-written idea of ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’. In this early version of the novel, the characters had different names.

 

‘Alice’s Adventures Under Ground’ by Lewis Carroll - Fantasy - Relams of Imagination

Alice’s Adventures Under Ground’ by Lewis Carroll

Photo: Urban Adventurer

 

 

Who doesn’t love ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ from Lewis Carroll? Did you know, however, that the original title of the story was ‘Alice’s Adventures Under Ground’? This hand-written version from 1862-1864 is also displayed.

 

J.R.R. Tolkien hand-written suggestions for ‘The Lord of the Rings’ BBC radio adaptation - Fantasy - Realms of Imagination Exhibition

J.R.R. Tolkien hand-written suggestions for ‘The Lord of the Rings’ BBC radio adaptation

Photo: Urban Adventurer

 

 

Make sure you don’t miss J.R.R. Tolkien hand-written suggestions for ‘The Lord of the Rings’ BBC radio adaptation. Initially Tolkien had not thought that ‘The Lord of the Rings’ would have been suitable for a radio adaptation, later, however, he agreed and sent hand-written suggestions with sort dramatized scenes. Sadly, no recording of the series survived.

 

Movie Props and Playable Video Games

 

 

Gandalf’s walking stick, pipe and pouch - Fantasy - Realms of Imagination Exhibition

Gandalf’s walking stick, pipe and pouch

Photo: Urban Adventurer

 

 

As I said earlier, most of the items displayed are books and manuscripts. However, there are some amazing props and costumes from movies and theatre plays, too.

 

2001-2003 film adaptation of ‘The Lord of the Rings’ was a roaring success. Thanks to a private collector, visitors have a rare chance to see Gandalf’s walking stick, his trademark pipe and his pouch. These are the original props actor Sir Ian McKellen used during filming.

 

A licensed Replica of Arya Stark’s famous sword ‘Needle’ - Fantasy - Realms of Imgaination

Arya Stark’s famous sword ‘Needle’

Photo: Urban Adventurer

 

 

There is also a licensed replica of Arya Stark’s famous sword ‘Needle’ from ‘Game of Thrones’.

 

Costume from Royal Ballet's The Sleeping Beauty Performance in 1968

Costumes worn in the Royal Ballet’s 1968 production of Tchaikovsky’s ‘The Sleeping Beauty’

Photo: Urban Adventurer

 

Make sure you don’t miss the beautifully elaborated costumes worn in the Royal Ballet’s 1968 production of Tchaikovsky’s ‘The Sleeping Beauty’. The 1968 version of the story is special because in this version Aurora is rescued by the prince and the story has a happy ending.

 

Costume is from the musical ‘Wicked’ - Fantasy - Realms of Imagination

Costume is from the musical ‘Wicked’

Photo: Urban Adventurer

 

 

This amazing costume is from the musical ‘Wicked’ played in 2003 in London. The costume was worn by a citizen of the Emerald City and the designer developed a flamboyant Edwardian-inspired style.

 

There are also playable fantasy video games to enjoy.

 

Gather your fellow adventurers and step through the gates of fairyland to discover the uncanny, the beautiful and sometimes monstrous world of fantasy.

 

Practical Info

 

Fantasy - Realms of Imagination Exhibition

Photo: Urban Adventurer

 

 

Address

The British Library | 96 Euston Rd., London NW1 2DB

 

 

Opening Times

Until 25 February 2024

Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday: 09:30 – 18:00

Tuesday: 09:30 – 20:00

Saturday: 09:30 – 17:00

Sunday: 11:00 – 17:00

 

 

Tickets

Tickets can be purchased on The British Library’s website

Adult (18 and over): £16

Child (12-17): £8

Child (0-11): FREE

 

 

 

 

 

Ready for your next adventure? You still have a chance to visit ‘Arctic Adventure’ at FUJIFILM House of Photography. ‘Arctic Adventure’ is a free photo experience in Covent Garden with mesmerising visuals and soundscapes, including the Northern Lights and the Yeti himself.