‘Marvellous and Mischievous: Literature’s Young Rebels’ at a glance

If you are looking for a family-friendly exhibition to start your year off, the British Library’s latest exhibtion may be just the thing. Addressing children’s stories, old and new, the exhibition exlores what it means to be a rebel, and the difference between naughtiness and bravery, misbehaviour and activism.


I was delighted to see the ingenious way in which this particular exhibition was designed to engage adults and children alike. My favourite example can be seen below.


At adults’ eye-level, an original draft and a later manuscript of Roald Dahl’s ‘Matilda’ are hung on the wall, with an explanation about how the content changed between versions of the same story; it is explained that Matilda was originally portrayed as a mischievous child until she was rewritten as a helpful, kind and brave little girl.

Meanwhile, at a child’s eye-level, a short passage reads:

Can you count how many korrections
corections correcshons corrections
Roald Dahl has made?

Remember to keep trying
next time you make a mistake.

You never know what
marvellous story it could lead to!

I think that the impact of correcting ‘correction’ and the message’s other simple language is a very clever way of engaging children and encouraging them to problem-solve. The link between mistake-making and creativity is a wonderfully positive message to communicate, especially in relation to such a well-known author whose stories may well inspire the children visiting the exhibition.


The same double-captioning was used throughout the exhibition, as can be seen above with modern favourite ‘Clarice Bean’.  It’s also worth noting how the exhibition doesn’t shy away from exhibiting original content, from the collage-style page design on loan from Lauren Child (above) to handwritten manuscript of ‘Jane Eyre’ (below).


Even though all of the exhibits sat behind glass, it was lovely to see old texts such as this Latin Textbook and ‘Child’s First Tales’…


… sat next to ‘The Jolly Postman’ and ‘Tracy Beaker’…


… as well as international, foreign-language texts such as this new edition of ‘Mulan’.


This truly gorgeous exhibition is definitely worth a visit, and whilst it is certainly family-friendly, there’s more than enough for big-kids to enjoy too, with or without the brood!

Marvellous and Mischievous: Literature’s Young Rebels

– Free, and open until Sun 1st March 2020