Manuscripts of literary greats coming

Yang Meiping
The "Where Great Writers Gather: Treasures of the British Library" exhibition will run at Shanghai Library from 15 March to 15 April, featuring works of five great British writers.
Yang Meiping
Manuscripts of literary greats coming
British Library Board

Manuscript of “Jane Eyre”, Volume III, by Charlotte Bronte. 

THE original manuscripts of five writers — Charlotte Bronte, D.H. Lawrence, Percy Bysshe Shelley, T.S. Eliot and Charles Dickens — are coming to Shanghai.

The drafts and correspondence of the writers will be exhibited at the Shanghai Library from March 15 until April 15.

Titled “Where Great Writers Gather: Treasures of the British Library,” the exhibition includes Bronte’s manuscript of “Jane Eyre” with the climactic line from the concluding chapter: “Reader — I married him.”

Also, drafts of poems from “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats” by T.S. Eliot and letters discussing feline behavior; D.H. Lawrence’s works from his novel, “The Rainbow”, discussing the ban on its publication and alternative ways to reach out to readers; manuscripts of a sonnet dedicated to “Lord Byron” by Shelley, as well as five pages from the original manuscript of “The Pickwick Papers” by Charles Dickens.

“Nothing matches the thrill of seeing first hand original manuscripts: from Charlotte Bronte’s scrupulously neat fair copy to Charles Dickens’ hurried and rather messy draft pages, they reveal the many different ways in which writers create,” Alexandra Ault, the British curator of the exhibition, said.

Items from Shanghai Library’s collections will also be featured in the exhibition, including a manuscript presented by George Bernard Shaw to Shanghai dramatist Huang Zuolin in 1937, with the inscription: “Rise up, China! You are the future of the eastern world.”

It will also exhibit a novel published in 1872, “Tan Ying Xiao Lu.” It is the earliest Chinese translation of Jonathan Swift’s “Gulliver’s Travels”.

The exhibition’s catalog has been jointly compiled by the two libraries and will be published by the Commercial Press.

The event marks a milestone in the relationship between the British Library and Shanghai Library as the two institutions signed a letter of intent and finalized arrangements to hold the current exhibition at the UK-China High Level People to People Dialogue in London last December.

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