Manuscripts and Special Collections

Weston Gallery Exhibition


Romantic Facts and Fantasies

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

Dates: Friday 10 May - Sunday 25 August

Admission free

This exhibition explores sixty years of turbulence and innovation in Romantic-era Britain (1780-1840) through texts, paintings, and artefacts.

 Drawing of a flea, 1811




The East Midlands is one of the heartlands of British Romanticism: Nottinghamshire was briefly home to the celebrity poet Lord Byron; and Derbyshire bears traces of the industrial landscape created by Richard Arkwright. Exhibits chronicle the Romantic period, and include items relating to Byron’s life at Newstead Abbey and a first edition of his drama, Manfred (1817). Preoccupations with the natural world are reflected in William Blake’s engravings for The Botanic Garden and the image of a flea found in The Wonders of the Microscope: or, An Explanation of the Wisdom of the Creator (1811). Representations of voyages of discovery 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 an age where inventions and innovations paved the way for modernity.

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.

A series of talks and events will be held to accompany the exhibition. Places are limited so please book your tickets with the Box Office on 0115 8467777. See the exhibition page at Lakeside Arts Centre for further details.

Location and Opening Times

Weston Gallery 
DH Lawrence Pavilion 
Lakeside Arts Centre
University Park 

Box Office : 0115 8467777  

Opening times:

Tuesday to Friday 11am-4pm

Saturday and Sunday 12pm-4pm

Closed Mondays 

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Gallery Tours

Wednesday 5 June & Tuesday 2 July

Weston Gallery, 2.30-3.30pm

Join the exhibition curators for a guided walk through of the exhibition and learn about the stories behind the items on display.

Lunchtime talks  

Djanogly Theatre

All talks are 1 - 2 pm

Wednesday 5 June

Gothic Haunting from the 1790s to the Present

The condition of haunting is central to the gothic mode. Dr Matt Green, AssociateProfessor in the School of English, explores haunting and being haunted,discussing creative artists and writers from William Blake to Alan Moore in asurvey of texts and narratives of the gothic tradition from its hey-day in the 1790sinto the 21st century.

Tuesday 2 July

Romantic Reputations: Angelic Austen and Beastly Byron?

Was Lord Byron really ‘mad, bad and dangerous to know’, and was Jane Austen‘a narrow-gutted spinster’? As two of the most enduringly popular writers of the Romantic period, their lives have been scrutinised and their moral reputations polarised. University of Nottingham PhD Researchers Ruby Hawley-Sibbett and Amy Wilcockson ask whether their lives, loves and works have been misrepresented.

Friday 26 July

Paupers and Poetry: The Workhouse at Southwell

The early 19th century is often seen a time of invention, creativity and technology. However, it also saw the development of an institution that shaped the lives of less fortunate members of society for decades to come–the Workhouse. This talk by Dr Charlotte May will focus on the Workhouse at Southwell, Nottinghamshire, whose founder was a close connection of the poet Lord Byron. 

Tuesday 20 August

Romanticism, Caricature and Politics

The years 1780-1840 are sometimes regarded as the ‘golden age of caricature’. In this illustrated talk, Dr Richard Gaunt, Associate Professor in the Department of History, considers the rough, boisterous sensibilities which caricaturists brought to their craft.

Film Screening

Djanogly Theatre

Tuesday 25 June, 7pm

Mary Shelley (2017)

A romance based on the relationship of Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin (Elle Fanning) and the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley (Douglas Booth). When the couple leave England with Mary’s sister Claire to stay at Lord Byron’s villa near Geneva, Mary is inspired to write one of the most important novels of the nineteenth century, Frankenstein.

The film will be introduced by Dr Charlotte May.

2 hours

£5 (£3 concessions)


Manuscripts and Special Collections

Kings Meadow Campus
Lenton Lane
Nottingham, NG7 2NR

telephone: +44 (0) 115 951 4565
fax: +44 (0) 115 846 8651