British Museum Reading Room - References in Art and Popular Culture

References in Art and Popular Culture

The British Museum Reading Room has become iconic. It is the subject of an eponymous poem, The British Museum Reading Room, by Louis MacNeice. Much of the action of David Lodge's 1965 novel The British Museum Is Falling Down takes place in the old Reading Room. The 'Glass Ceiling' of Anabel Donald's 1994 novel is the ceiling of the Reading Room, where the denouement is set.

Alfred Hitchcock used the Reading Room and the dome of the British Museum as a location for the climax of his first sound film Blackmail (1929). Other movies with key scenes in the Reading Room include Night of the Demon (1957) and in the 2001 Japanese anime OVA Read or Die, the Reading Room is used as the secret entrance to the British Library's fictional "Special Operations Division".

Probably the first work of fiction in which the British Museum Reading Room plays an important part as a setting is "New Grub Street" by George Gissing, published in 1891.

In short story Enoch Soames, first published in May 1916, an obscure writer makes a deal with the Devil to visit the Reading Room one hundred years in the future, in order to know what posterity thinks about him and his work.

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