The Life of Objects
Until 27 August 2017
Libraries have long been guardians of the written word. Yet at The John Rylands Library, words are only part of the picture - as their current exhibition illustrates.
The Life of Objects could be described as an exhibition of the unexpected. Instead of books and manuscripts, it showcases some of the more unusual objects in our collection. And, although humble – the objects range from a beaded bag to a battered pair of baby shoes – each of these objects has its own tale to tell.
That bag, for example, describes both literary celebrity and unrequited love. It belonged to Mary Chaworth, best known for spurning the advances of the scandalous and brilliant poet, Lord Byron. The baby shoes, meanwhile, speak of a boy from Stalybridge, who became a much-heralded poet – until an AIDS-related virus killed Adam Johnson at the age of just 28.
With a selection of objects linked to figures as diverse as 20th century composer Delia Derbyshire, the preacher John Wesley and the artist Li Yuan chia, this is an exhibition whose stories leap across history, geography and gender – and rewards time spent uncovering the subtle connections between them.
The John Rylands Library is located on the Deansgate edge of Spinningfields.