Exhibitions

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Romantic Facts and Fantasies

Culture and Heritage of the romantic Age, c. 1780-1840

This exhibition explores sixty years of turbulence and innovation that laid the foundations of our modern world. The East Midlands is one of the heartlands of British Romanticism: Nottinghamshire was briefly home to one of its leading lights, the poet and celebrity Lord Byron; and Derbyshire still bears traces of the industrial landscape created by visionary engineers such as Richard Arkwright. Exhibits on display include images, documents and artefacts chronicling the landscape of the Romantic East Midlands, as well as pieces relating to Byron’s life at Newstead Abbey, including a 1st edition of his supernatural drama, Manfred (1817).

Romantic-period preoccupations with imagining and anatomising the natural world are reflected in William Blake’s engravings for The Botanic Garden and in the image of a flea found in The Wonders of the Microscope: or, An Explanation of the Wisdom of the Creator (1811). ‘The Kangooroo’ (1789) and other representations of voyages of discovery and colonisation embody Romantic concerns with real and imagined lands beyond Europe. Visitors to the exhibition can explore how Romantic 'fact’ and ‘fantasy’ worked together and against one another during a complex age whose inventions and innovations paved the way for modernity and simultaneously exultedthe power of the imagination and its creations.

This exhibition has been jointly curated by a team from the School of English Professor Lynda Pratt, Dr Máire ní Fhlathúin, Johnny Cammish, Colette Davies, Ruby Hawley-Sibbett, Jodie Marley, Amy Wilcockson and Dr Charlotte May) and Manuscripts and Special Collections, University of Nottingham.

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