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Magic, Witches & Devils at The John Rylands Library


Rustam slays the White Div, in Abu'l Qasim Firdousi ('Ferdowsi'), Shahnama (Book of Kings), Shiraz, 1542. Persian MS 932

Ghosts, witches, sorcerers and demons: our fascination with the supernatural stretches back centuries. ‘Magic, Witches & Devils in the Early Modern World’ invites you to explore how supernatural forces shaped the lives of everyone from kings and queens to clergymen and maidservants.

This fascinating exhibition, housed within the gothic splendour of The John Rylands Library, reveals how magic, diabolical witchcraft and ghostly encounters inspired fear and curiosity on an unprecedented scale between the 15th and 18th centuries.

Curated by Jennifer Spinks and Sasha Handley from History at The University of Manchester, the exhibition presents rare books, prints, manuscripts and objects that illuminate the roots of our obsession with supernatural powers and reveal a world where the Devil was understood as a very real and present danger in daily life.

“One of the most exciting aspects of the exhibition”, according to Jennifer Spinks, “is how it looks at magical beliefs in European daily life while showing how similar fears and fascinations existed in other cultures, from Japan to the Islamic world. With stunning local, European and non-Western examples from Manchester collections, this exhibition offers an exceptionally wide-ranging window onto the supernatural world.”

Runs from 21 January - 21 August 2016 at The John Rylands Library. This exhibition has been generously supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

Updated: Fri, Jan 29, 2016