Vampires, zombies and Frankenstein: Gothic history in pictures

Since the publication of the first Gothic novel in 1764, gothic literature has influenced nearly all aspects of popular culture – film, fashion, music and art. Now, 250 years on, a new exhibition exploring the roots of Gothic culture has opened at the British Library...

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The UK’s largest display of Gothic literature – ‘Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination’ – celebrates how British writers have pioneered the genre. On show alongside the manuscripts of classic novels such as Frankenstein and Dracula is a vampire slaying kit, the Wallace and Gromit Were-Rabbit, and Stanley Kubrick’s annotated typescript of The Shining.

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The exhibition, which runs until 20 January 2015, also showcases Clive Barker’s original film script and sketches for Hellraiser, and Alexander McQueen’s iconic Gothic catwalk creations.

Here, we bring you some of the highlights:

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Alarm clock, c1840–1900. Science Museum, London © Science Museum/Science & Society Picture Library

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Julie Harris, costume design for Dracula, (1979). On loan from the BFI National Archive

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First illustration of Frankenstein’s monster. Mary Shelley, Frankenstein, or, The Modern Prometheus. London, 1831. Photography courtsey of British Library.

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‘Dear Boss’ letter, signed by someone claiming to be Jack the Ripper and sent to the Central News Agency in September 1888. © The National Archives

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Victorian vampire hunting kit © Royal Armouries (XII.11811)

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The first illustration of Dracula, from Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Leeds, 1901. Photo courtesy of British Library.

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Early illustration of a female vampire, which inspired Rudyard Kipling’s poem ‘The Vampire’. Rudyard Kipling, New York, 1899.

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Still from The Wicker Man, 1973 © StudioCanal Films Ltd. All rights reserved/The Kobal Collection

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An early illustration of a ‘wicker man’ from Nathaniel Spencer’s The Complete English Traveller, 1771 © British Library Board

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Fuseli’s suitably Gothicized image of the ghost of Hamlet’s father in Boydell’s Shakespeare. Photograph courtesy of the British Library

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Scott MacGregor, set designs for Scars of Dracula, (c1970). On loan from the BFI National Archive