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Animal Tales at the British Library

Animal Tales at the British Library

The British Library isn't necessarily the first place you'd think of when planning an exhibition visit. But in fact they have a diverse range of events and shows, and this weekend we went to check out Animal Tales.

The exhibition is compact but full of tiny gems, including a 1902 edition of Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit and a 16th century illustrated version of Aesop’s Fables (both shown below) plus some of my personal childhood favourites including Watership Down, Tarka the Otter and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

Image: The title page from the 1950 London edition of CS Lewis's 'The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe'

Animal Tales aims to explore what these stories can reveal about what it means to be human, as lead curator Matthew Shaw explains: ‘From their central role in children’s literature to more recent explorations of love and loss, animals offer a way to reassess what makes us human. As nature writing has had a dramatic rise in its popularity in recent years, Animal Tales offers a chance to look at some of the history and background of that genre, and perhaps to think about some of the reasons for its success.’

Images: Left, Doty & Waterson's 'A Swarm, A Flock, A Host'. Right, Jack London's 1903 edition of 'The Call of the Wild'

We loved exploring the rich and imaginative history of animals on the page. After being enchanted by Animal Tales, we stumbled across the permanent exhibition Treasures of the British Library in a neighbouring room.

Here, the British Library holds some of the most beautiful and influential books and documents in the world. From one of four surviving copies of the Magna Carta to Leonardo da Vinci’s notebook and Shakespeare’s first folio, it really is an incredible collection. The gallery holds over 200 items in total, including literary, historical, scientific, musical and religious works from all over the world. We suggest taking an afternoon to fully immerse yourself in this amazing collection.


Animal Tales

Fri 7 Aug - Sun 1 Nov 2015

Price: FREE

Treasures of the British Library

Permanent Exhibition

Price: FREE

The British Library
96 Euston Road

Enquiries: +44 (0)1937 546546

Image credits: Wikipedia & British Library