I have a suspicion that, for the next five months, the British Library is going to be my second home. Yesterday I was fortunate enough to attend a preview of their new exhibition ‘Georgians Revealed’ – commemorating the 300th anniversary of the accession of George I to the throne – and I was mightily impressed [I shan’t hold the BL accountable for the rather unfortunate encounter I had with a pigeon when exploring the pop-up Georgian garden].
As well as featuring objects associated with big names such as Jane Austen, Fanny Burney, Robert Adam and David Garrick the spotlight is also cast on the entertainments and pleasures of wider Georgian society. A pair of shoes designed to be worn at the seaside, a gorgeously scribbled clothier’s order book, a fancy teacup, a broadside advertising the arrival of a “Sagacious Learned Goose” into Haymarket – all offer a little glimpse of how people in eighteenth-century England made life a little bit more interesting.
The exhibition closes with a truly inspired move – the floor of the final gallery is covered with an explorable reproduction of Richard Horwood’s map of London in the 1790s (so detailed that many of the house numbers are provided). Once I have made my fortune, I’m stealing this idea for my kitchen floor.
It has to be said that I was probably as excited by the c18th-themed shop as by the exhibition itself, and was super pleased to see one of my own little books ‘The Georgian Bawdyhouse’ included. Hurrah for the British Library, and hurrah for the Georgians!
A few highlights…
A couple of copies of Harris’s notorious lists of London’s c18th ladies of pleasure
A masquerade mask of the 1780s
Jane Austen’s writing desk & spectacles; alongside some letters penned by Fanny Burney
Detail from the lovely clothier & draper’s order book
Finding my Brand family roots at the Seven Dials
the best biscuits I have ever seen in my life.
[note: please forgive the less-than-great photography!]
For more information, visit the British Library website