Fantasy exhibition takes over Leeds Central Library

Librarian Heather Edwards reads a vintage Fairytales book by Hans Christian Andersen next to a dragon created by fantasy artist Anne Stokes
PA Media

Classic story books and fantasy are at the heart of a new exhibition in Leeds.

Antique works on show at the Central Library include those by The Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen.

The exhibition, which runs until January, also features a pair of mythical dragons created by fantasy artist Anne Stokes.

The library said the works being exhibited would reveal how fantasy had “inspired, thrilled and captured the imaginations of so many generations”.

Rhian Isaac, special collections librarian, said: “As a genre, fantasy really encapsulates the power which books and stories have to transport us to a completely different world, where we can encounter astonishing creatures, people and places.”

Leeds Central Library Librarian Josh Flint


Fantasy: Realms of Imagination features vintage copies of Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Gulliver’s Travels and Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, complete with illustrations by the renowned artist Arthur Rackham.

It is inspired by a new exhibition at the British Library also called Fantasy: Realms of Imagination.

Rackham is widely regarded as a leading light of the golden age of British book illustration in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Other works on display include an 1894 edition of The Story of the Glittering Plain by famed poet, artist and fantasy writer William Morris, illustrated with black and white woodcut designs by Walter Crane.

A vintage copy of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland which features in Leeds Central Library's new Fantasy exhibition.

Leeds Central Library
Librarian Josh Flint

PA Media

Memorabilia from fantasy TV shows such as Xena: Warrior Princess and Buffy the Vampire Slayer also feature.

Ms Isaac said fantasy had influenced everything for thousands of years.

“From the way ancient cultures made sense of the world around them, to important lessons we have taught young children, right up to today, when knights, wizards, witches and dragons have played central roles in some of the most popular television programmes and films ever made.

“The objects we have on display throughout the library illustrate the many ways fantasy has been an endlessly varied common thread throughout human history, and how it has inspired, thrilled and captured the imaginations of so many generations,” he said.

Leeds Central Library is one of more than 30 hosting displays highlighting how local folklore and fairy tales have inspired fantasy writers

Presentational grey line

Follow BBC Yorkshire on Facebook, X (formerly Twitter) and Instagram. Send your story ideas to

Related Topics

  • Leeds
  • Books

Related Internet Links

  • Fantasy – Realms of Imagination

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.