Thursday 19 October
5pm – 8pm
This month’s Museum Late explores the rich, dark history of Victorian Gothic literature, and the darker side of Victorian culture.
Dressing up is encouraged – think Victorian Gothic attire! Entertainment is spread throughout the evening, so drop in at any time to enjoy it.
You can expect:
- Music of the Night – live piano music of the darker side of the Classics
- Dramatic Readings – from Gothic Literary Classics and more obscure tales
- Gothic Fashion – with author Katie Godman, with garments from the Blandford Fashion Museum
- Gothic Conversations – discover more about Gothic art, Victorian Spiritualism, Mary Shelley and more…
Victorian Gothic is a literary and architectural movement that emerged during the Victorian era in Britain, which lasted from the early 19th century to the beginning of the 20th century. This movement was characterised by a fascination with the mysterious, the macabre, and the supernatural. It drew inspiration from the earlier Gothic literary tradition but added distinct Victorian elements, reflecting the societal and cultural concerns of the time.
Here are some key aspects of Victorian Gothic and what it means:
- Romanticism and Rebellion: Victorian Gothic literature often grew out of the Romantic movement, which emphasized intense emotions, nature, and a fascination with the unknown. However, it also contained an element of rebellion against the strict moral and social conventions of Victorian society. Writers and artists of this era used the Gothic to explore themes of inner turmoil, societal repression, and the darker aspects of the human psyche.
- Emphasis on Atmosphere: One of the defining characteristics of Victorian Gothic literature is its focus on creating a chilling and eerie atmosphere. Authors employed vivid descriptions of decaying mansions, haunted landscapes, and oppressive weather to set the tone. This emphasis on atmosphere aimed to immerse readers in a sense of foreboding and unease.
- Supernatural Elements: Victorian Gothic stories frequently featured supernatural elements, such as ghosts, vampires, and other supernatural creatures. These elements served as a means to explore the boundaries of reality and to challenge the rationality and scientific progress of the era.
- Moral and Social Commentary: Beneath the surface of eerie tales and supernatural encounters, Victorian Gothic often carried a deeper message. It was a medium through which writers could critique the societal norms and values of the time. Themes like class disparity, gender roles, and the consequences of unchecked ambition were common in these works.
- Iconic Authors: Some of the most well-known Victorian Gothic authors include Mary Shelley, who wrote “Frankenstein,” Bram Stoker, the creator of “Dracula,” and Edgar Allan Poe, an American writer whose works greatly influenced the genre. Additionally, Charlotte Brontë’s “Jane Eyre” and Emily Brontë’s “Wuthering Heights” are considered Victorian Gothic novels due to their dark and atmospheric themes.
- Architectural Influence: The term “Gothic” in Victorian Gothic also extends to architecture. During the Victorian era, there was a revival of Gothic architecture, characterized by the use of pointed arches, intricate ornamentation, and a sense of verticality. Buildings like the Houses of Parliament in London and the St. Pancras railway station exemplify this architectural style.
- Enduring Influence: The themes and aesthetic of Victorian Gothic continue to influence literature, art, and popular culture today. Elements of the Victorian Gothic can be found in contemporary horror fiction, films, and even fashion.
Thursday 19 October 2023
5pm – 8pm
Third Thursday Club
Our Museum Lates take place every third Thursday of the month, exploring a different theme each time. Why not consider joining the Friends of the Russell-Cotes, which includes free admission to the museum for a year, including to each of the monthly Third-Thursday-Club Museum Lates?
19th October 23 - 19th October 23
The majority of programming of this event is within areas of the historic house and galleries that are accessible. Some minor elements of the event may take place upstairs, which is accessed via stairs only.