Writing’s on the wall at Shandy Hall

Exhibitions officer Olivia Threlkeld at Shandy Hall with some of the 18th century literary prints

THEY were the cinema posters of their day, more than a century before the movies were invented.

A collection of 18th century prints depicting fictional heroines at moments of heightened emotion goes on display on Saturday at the former home of one of Yorkshire’s most distinctive writers.

The stipple prints, produced by commercial artists to illustrate scenes from books, are being displayed for the summer at Shandy Hall, on the edge of the North York Moors, the 18th century home of the curate and author Laurence Sterne. His most famous novel, The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman - later made into the film, A Cock and Bull Story, starring Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon - was written there in 1759.

The 60 prints on display, whose subjects include Shakespeare’s Richard III, were originally indented as wall decorations.

“They are like cinema posters or visual opera,” said Shandy Hall’s curator, Patrick Wildgust. “They were produced when creative writing was on the rise and when there was a great demand for prints, and we are displaying them as they would originally have been seen, with all the proper context.”

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