I am already totting up more exhibitons to see on future London trips, and Bookhound and I will definitely be scheduling in Writing Britain : Wastelands to Wonderlands opening at The British Library today and running until September 25th, for our Summer Day in the City. I travel up and down to London solo many times through the year, but we try to fit in a together day every so often too.
And I feel an affinity because the last I heard the British Library were archiving dovegreyreader scribbles for future reference material... heaven help anyone trying to find their way around it all, and on checking the archive for the first time ever, because I had completely forgotten that fact, they do seem to have 198,600 entries about us, which seems enough to keep any poor student busy in 2112.
Team Old Ways are busy reading their copy of Robert Macfarlanes' book The Old Ways and readying for their walks which they will be introducing on here very soon, and having just finished the book I can see how well this exhibition will segue into that reading.
Examining how our landscape has shaped our literature feels like a natural extension to Robert Macfarlane's quest to see how landscape has shaped ourselves, and with it comes a reminder that not every writer had such a 'religious or reverent response to the countryside,' this according to Genevieve Fox in her exhibition preview.
One hundred and fifty works will be on display and the range sounds awesome from Chaucer's Canterbury Tales to Angela Carter's Wise Children and everything inbetween and including first editions, original drafts and author's notebooks.
Genevieve Fox suggests the notebooks will be like entering a writer's inner landscape, though if you looked at mine you could be forgiven for thinking you had the map inside out. I keep notebooks with me constantly for quotes I see that I want to remember, but know I will have forgotten even where I saw them five minutes later, and for ...er... conversations I might hear...or for taking notes when I am at a literary event (this is often as much to keep me awake during that early afternoon slot as it is to make sure I offer all of you a reasonably accurate account) and for notes when I am wandering around the places I visit. I haven't always been such an avid notebooker but I am very conscious of the danger of remembering things that I may never have actually seen and that wouldn't do at all. And then Bookhound will take it off me and do a sketch so I am now insisting that he has a sketch book with him at all times because what could be better than a resident artist.
This being me I can't just accept that a notebook is a notebook plain and simple and leave it at that, I have to customize them with my 'love' of the moment. The first one is almost full, the next one is ready and waiting. I think you can all probably work it out... from my Angie Lewin year to my Eric Ravilious one.
I absolutely have to go if only to see George Eliot's manuscript for Middlemarch, which was on display for years but then suddenly disappeared. I always used to marvel at the thought that George Eliot wrote it by the light of a candle or perhaps oil lamps and with a scratchy old feather or something, and with hardly any crossings out.
Returning to the British Library, the exhibition will be thematically arranged bearing in mind that it is not always nature that inspires, so the industrial revolution will have its place... Rural Dreams, Industrial Muse, Wild Places and Waterlands, Cockney Visions and Beyond the City, whilst The Thames will feature as a character in its own right, so I am excited to see what that will draw into the displays.
There are plenty of events running alongside the exhibition including one with Robert Macfarlane on June 26th and I see a Bloomsday event on June 16th you very lucky London people. Robert Macfarlane will be at Port Eliot this year so I am hoping to lure him along to the dovegreyreader tent with the promise of a cup of tea and cake served by the catering corps (Bookhound and the Weatherman have put in a request for an urn this year.)
Please do report back if you see the exhibition or get to any events, we'd all love to know more....is anyone planning to go??