Fantasy: Realms of Imagination exhibition opens at the British Library soon, along with events with Neil Gaiman, and many more

Fantasy: Realms of the Imagination - British Library Exhibition 2023 - 2024

Fantasy: Realms of the Imagination, a major exhibition on fantasy opens at the British Library in London on 27th October, and a raft of tie-events includes appearances by authors Neil Gaiman, Philip Pullman and artist Terri Windling.

In the works for over a year, supported by Wayland Games Limited and the Unwin Charitable Trust, with thanks to The B. H. Breslauer Fund of the American Trust for the British Library, visitors can look forward to “a legendary quest through the impossible worlds of fantasy.”

“Let our landmark exhibition cast its spell as we explore the beautiful, uncanny and sometimes monstrous makings of fantasy,” the Library enthuses. “From epic visions to intricately envisaged details, we celebrate some of the finest fantasy creators, reveal how their imagined lands, languages and creatures came into being, and delve into the traditions of a genre that has created some of the most passionate and enduring fandoms.”

Advising the Library on the art selection for this major exhibition were fantasy and science fiction author Aliette de Bodard, comics writer and author Neil Gaiman, writer, critic, and poet Roz Kaveney, and artist, editor and essayist, Terri Windling.

Black To The Future presents: Genre Marauders

Along with the exhibition, a catalogue of essays and art will be on sale, and the British Library is offering a programme of associated events — some of which will be streamed online. They include The Dark is Rising and Other Stories: Susan Cooper and Natalie Haynes in Conversation (Friday 27th October); Black To The Future presents: Genre Marauders (Friday 3rd November, a panel event chaired by Irenosen Okojie MBE (Nudibranch), featuring Arthur C Clarke, award-winning author Tade Thompson (Rosewater) and BAFTA-nominated narrative designer Chella Ramanan (Before I Forget), and Rivers Solomon (The Deep); and Journeys to the Land of Faerie… and Telling the Tale, on Friday 9th November.

This very special event explores fairy lore in fantasy and traditional folk balladry, along with Terri Windling, author of acclaimed works of literary fantasy, an award-winning audio book narrator and stage performer Ellen Kushner, author and Professor of English Literature at Keble College, Oxford, Diane Purkiss, author Jeannette Ng, best known for her 2017 novel Under the Pendulum Sun, for which she won the Sydney J Bounds Award for Best Newcomer at the 2018 British Fantasy Awards, and Mercury Prize nominated folk singer, writer, conservationist, song collector, award-winning creator of live events, broadcaster and activist Sam Lee. (This is one of the events that will also available online).

Comic Creators at the Library

Neil Gaiman
Neil Gaiman

Why We Need Fantasy: Neil Gaiman in conversation, takes place on 20th November, and is on hand for The Worlds of Terry Pratchett: Neil Gaiman and Rob Wilkins the following day, a special celebration of the remarkable creative life of Sir Terry Pratchett, 40 years after the publication of the first Discworld novel The Colour of Magic.

Be ready, too, for An Evening with Philip Pullman (Thursday 30th November).

Fantasy Worlds: Visualising Fantasy

An anciente mappe of Fairyland : newly discovered and set forth

Of particular interest to downthetubes readers may be
Fantasy Worlds: Visualising Fantasy, with Brian and Wendy Froud, Alan Lee and Terri Windling, part of an entire day of amazing-sounding fantasy events under the umbrella title Fantasy Worlds: A Day of Talks, accessible worldwide with an online day pass, with physical events at the Library on Saturday 9th December.

Brian and Wendy Froud and Alan Lee are three of the most celebrated artists in the fantasy world, with The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth, Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings amongst their design credits alongside countless books and illustrations.

Brian Froud and Alan Lee collaborated on the bestselling 1978 book Faeries, an illustrated compendium of faerie folklore. Brian was then invited by Jim Henson to be conceptual designer for the cult films The Dark Crystal (1982) and Labyrinth (1986) where he met and later married puppet-maker and sculptor Wendy Midener, who was also working on The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth having come from The Empire Strikes Back, where she fabricated and helped puppeteer the original Yoda. Brian’s numerous best selling other works include Good Faeries/Bad Faeries and Lady Cottington’s Pressed Faery Book, while Wendy has continues to make models and mythic figures and has illustrated The Old Oak Wood series with Terri Windling, as well as collaborating on Trolls Tales and Faeries Tales with Brian.

Alan Lee is globally celebrated for his artwork inspired by J. R. R. Tolkien’s fantasy novels, and for his work on the conceptual design of Peter Jackson’s film adaptations of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.

Together the three artists have created some of the most acclaimed mythic artwork of our time and some of the most well known fantasy images and designs of the recent decades. At this special session the artists join writer and editor Terri Windling to discuss their wonderful creative careers.

Terri Windling is a writer, editor, and folklorist specialising in fantasy and mythic arts. She has published over 40 books, receiving 10 World Fantasy Awards (including the Life Achievement Award in 2022), the Mythopoeic Award, the Bram Stoker Award, and the SFWA Solstice Award. She has edited many of the major fantasy writers in the field; writes fiction for adults and children, nonfiction on fairy tales and faery lore, and a writes long-running blog on myth, nature, and creativity, Myth & Moor.

“[I] absolutely urge you to go see it if you can,” says Terri, “as it was put together with a great deal of care and love by a great team of folks from the British Library and Matthew Sangster from the excellent Centre for Fantasy and the Fantastic.

Fantasy: Realms of Imagination, opens Friday 27th October 2023 and runs until Sunday 25th February 2024 | PACCAR 1, The British Library, 96 Euston Road, London NW1 2DB | Tickets on sale now

For details of Fantasy: Realms of the Imagination associated events and to book tickets head to

Unwin Charitable Trust

Wayland Games Limited

American Trust for the British Library

Fantasy: Realms of the Imagination Events Announced

Events to come include:

The Dark is Rising and Other Stories: Susan Cooper and Natalie Haynes in Conversation | Friday 27 October, 19:00 – 20:30

Join Fantasy writer Susan Cooper in conversation with classicist and author Natalie Haynes on the 50th anniversary of Cooper’s acclaimed novel The Dark is Rising.

Tiffany Aching’s Guide to Being a Witch | Friday 27 October 14:00 – 15:00

Published in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the first Tiffany Aching story in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series, writers Rhianna Pratchett and Gabrielle Kentwill be at the Library to discuss their new book, Tiffany Aching’s Guide To Being A Witch, a ‘practical guide to being a witch in Discworld.’

Black To The Future Festival | Friday 3 November

Black To The Future is an Afro-Futurist festival founded and directed by Irenosen Okojie MBE in collaboration with the Royal Society of Literature and the British Library, with a focus on celebrating Black literature and art. As part of the festival there will be a panel event chaired by acclaimed author and broadcaster Irenosen Okojie MBE, featuring Arthur C Clarke award-winning author Tade Thompson and Bafta-nominated narrative designer Chella Ramanan.

The Library will also be hosting a night of electronic music, art and Fantasy inspired by the extraordinary vision of Drexciya, whose futuristic sound was entwined with an alternate Black history and mythology. With music from electronic act Dopplereffekt and a special event with Drexciya collaborator-artist Abdul Qadim Haqq and DJ Josey Rebelle.

Tales of the Weird | Thursday 14 November 19:00 – 20:30

Explore the British Library’s acclaimed publishing series of weird and uncanny writing, with Tanya Kirk the curator of the Library’s new Fantasy exhibition and the Tales of the Weird series editor, Jonny Davidson, writer and actor Reece Shearsmith, chaired by author and broadcaster, Matthew Sweet.

Why We Need Fantasy: Neil Gaiman in conversation | Monday 20 November 19:00- 20:30

A special event where one of the leading Fantasy writers of our time, Neil Gaiman, will be in conversation with poet, critic and writer, Roz Kaveney, to discuss Gaiman’s impact on literature and their involvement as advisors on the British Library’s new Fantasy exhibition.

Sir Terry Pratchett
The late Sir Terry Pratchett

The Worlds of Terry Pratchett: Neil Gaiman and Rob Wilkins | Tuesday 21 November 19:00 – 20:30

Join acclaimed writer Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett biographer Rob Wilkins for a celebration of Pratchett’s life and work on the 40th anniversary of the publication of the first Discworld novel, The Colour of Magic

Philip Pullman
Philip Pullman

An Evening with Philip Pullman | Thursday 30 November 19:00 – 20:30

Bestselling writer Philip Pullman will be in conversation with the Director of the Hay Children’s Festival, Julia Eccleshare, discussing his epic Fantasy trilogy His Dark Materials.

Fantasy Worlds: A Day of Talks | Saturday 9 December

Join us for a day of special events featuring some of the most compelling and fascinating voices in Fantasy writing and art, including in conversation events with Brian and Wendy Froud from The Dark Crystal and R. F. Kuangwriter of best-selling Fantasy series The Poppy War and Babel, or the Necessity of Violence and events exploring Fantasy cartography, the life and legacy of Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein and world-building in Fantasy with Fantasy writer Adrian Tchaikovsky, writer and Fantasy advisory board member Aliette de Bodard andMatthew Sangster, guest curator of the British Library’s Fantasy exhibition.

Fantasy Board Games Day | Saturday 9 December 10:00 – 16:30

Come and explore the wonderful world of Fantasy games, from tabletop, miniatures, board, and card games. This event is brought to you by the team behind the UK Games Expo and supported by Wayland Games.

Fantasy: Realms of Imagination runs at the British Library from 27 October 2023 – 25 February 2024. The exhibition was made possible with support from Wayland Games and The Unwin Charitable Trust, with thanks to The American Trust for the British Library and The B.H. Breslauer Fund of the American Trust for the British Library.

Categories: Art and Illustration, British Comics, Comics, downthetubes News, Events, Exhibitions, Other Worlds

Tags: , , , , , , ,

1 reply


  1. British and Irish Current Comic-Related Exhibitions –

Discover more from

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading