Manchester’s John Rylands Library is set to house a new exhibition, Darkness and Light: Exploring Gothic, revealing how Gothic architecture and anatomy inspired and influences by a literary genre and how its lasting legacy can still be found in art, film and subculture.

Appropriately homed within one of Manchester’s most iconic, grand and interesting buildings, the exhibition will look at the fantastical and the macabre, unearthing treasures from the library’s Special Collections and investigating subjects such as the role of women in the Gothic movement, literature, art and medical science.

Items on display are set to include the first Gothic novel, Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto (1764), a forerunner to the literary genre which became popular in the later 18th and 19th centuries.  In fact, The Castle of Otranto has it all – a Gothic medieval castle, doomed love and restless spectres of the past, inspiring the genre and ultimately leading to classic bestsellers of the Gothic genre including The Monk, Jekyll and Hyde and Udolpho.

The exhibition will showcase artwork by students from the University of Salford and a photography portraits of ‘Goths’, to celebrate diversity and inviting visitors to consider whet the term Gothic really means to them.

Look out too for special events happening during alongside the exhibition, including a ghostly Gothic tour of the Library and screenings of classic Gothic movies such as Nosferatu, which are set to take place in the awe inspiring Historic Reading Room.


Darkness and Light: Exploring Gothic – John Rylands Library, Deansgate, 16 July to 20 December 2015.

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John Rylands Library. image courtesy of Robert Cutts/Flickr.