From well-known and treasured stories including Aesop’s Fables, Black Beauty and The Tale of Peter Rabbit, to writers such as Michel de Montaigne, Anton Chekhov and T.S. Eliot, storytellers have used animals not only to capture the imagination of readers, but to deliver powerful and revealing messages about what it means to be human.
Animal Tales, a new exhibition in the British Library’s Entrance Hall Gallery, asks why animals have come to play such an important role in literature for adults and children alike with a variety of charming editions and manuscripts from the Library’s collections.
Set amongst silhouetted animals and a woodland scene, the exhibition explores the central role animals have played in traditional tales around the world, their importance to the development of children’s literature and their use in allegories from The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe to the first appearance of Art Spiegelman’s Maus in the underground comic Funny Aminals.
We were delighted to learn that Laline Paull’s Baileys Prize-nominated debut novel The Bees, which we published last year, is featured in the exhibition, under the Animal Allegories category. For a debut novel to have stuck in the nation’s imagination so swiftly is a real testament to its author’s writing skill, and we’re proud to see Laline exhibited alongside the likes of Mikhail Bulgakov, Art Spiegelman, Chinua Achebe and George Orwell.
For more details about the exhibition, see the British Library website.
The Bees is out now in paperback.
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