For centuries readers have escaped their everyday lives and journeyed into new worlds. Worlds filled with magic and adventure, incredible mythical creatures, and heroes and villains that speak to our greatest dreams and fears. From ancient folk tales and fairy stories to gothic horror and weird fiction - Fantasy is a rich genre filled with magical worlds. All imagined by writers, artists, and creators who have had an enduring, global impact.

Our new Fantasy exhibition is a celebration of the genre across a number of Camden’s libraries, in partnership with the British Library.

The exhibition opens on 27 October 2023 and will be touring the borough, starting at Swiss Cottage Library. This free exhibition explores the rich diversity of the fantasy genre, from Arthurian legends to Manga and live-action role-playing games.

Take part in fantasy worlds

Libraries play a special role in the canon of fantasy literature. They provide portals to other realms, containing magical texts that help heroes on their quests. Librarians help the characters navigate wondrous lands and the strange creatures they contain. This October, readers will be able to discover special content and events to help bring these iconic characters and worlds to life. Join us, as your local library transforms into a fantastical realm of its own.

Adults and children can also take part in fantasy poetry and fantasy drawing competitions, with a different theme each month!

Exhibition dates and locations

  • Swiss Cottage Library: 27 October to 15 November 2023
  • Kilburn Library: 17 November to 7 December 2023
  • Pancras Square Library: 9 December to 28 December 2023
  • Holborn Library: 30 December to 16 January 2024
  • Kentish Town Library: 18 January to 8 February 2024
  • Queens Crescent Library: 10 February to 25 February 2024

There will live streaming events from the British Library throughout October 2023 to February 2024.   

Poetry workshops

Join storyteller Richard Neville for a creative writing session for adults. We will use the library as our inspiration, collecting words and pictures and building a story. Take a journey into your imagination while exploring the library in a new way. What story will the library tell you? Join the session to find out!

  • Portals: Libraries as a portal to other worlds at Swiss Cottage Library, 9 November 2023 6pm to 7.30pm
  • Fairytales and Folklore at Kilburn Library, 30 November 5pm to 6.30pm  

Places are limited, please email libraries@camden.gov.uk to reserve your place.

Poetry and drawing competition

If you feel inspired by any of the workshops and exhibitions you attend, why not take part in one of our competitions.

Competition themes:

  • November 2023: Portals: Libraries as a portal to other worlds   
  • December 2023: Fairytales and Folklore
  • January 2024: Heroes and Heroines
  • February 2024: Dragons and Quests

How to submit your poems and drawings

You can either hand your poem or drawing in at your local library, or you can email your submission to: libraries@camden.gov.uk

*Please ensure that you include your contact details*

Closing date

The closing date for the Poetry and Drawing competition is Monday 4 March 2024. Winners will be announced Thursday 22 March 2024 and notified by email or contacted by phone. 

Download our competition flyer (PDF)

Living Knowledge Network

The Living Knowledge Network is a UK-wide partnership of over 30 libraries. The Network highlights how local folklore and fairy tales have inspired fantasy writers.  It also focuses on the role of local libraries in introducing readers to the genre. There will be a series of events showcasing the impact of fantasy in the UK, including:

  • Natalie Haynes and Susan Cooper explore how their work has been [DL5] [JA6] inspired by mythology and ancient legends on 27 October, streamed live from the British Library
  • The worlds of science-fiction, fantasy and gothic horror collide in a special event with acclaimed writers Adrian Tchaikovsky, RJ Barker and Elizabeth Dearnley, in conversation on 9 November, streamed live from Leeds Central Library
  • An evening with the award-winning Neil Gaiman on why we need fantasy literature on 20 November, streamed live from the British Library
  • A full day exploration of Fantasy featuring notable speakers including, R.F. Kuang covering everything from fantastical maps to mythical models on 9 December, streamed live from the British Library
  • A UK-wide Fantasy quiz night, held at local Living Knowledge Network libraries

View the full list of events.

Fantasy: Realms of Imagination runs at the British Library from 27 October 2023 to 25 February 2024. The exhibition was made possible with support from Wayland Games and The Unwin Charitable Trust, with thanks to The American Trust for the British Library and The B.H. Breslauer Fund of the American Trust for the British Library.

The Living Knowledge Network streams free events, exhibitions and workshops from libraries across the UK.

Join storyteller Richard Neville for a creative writing session for adults. We will use the library as our inspiration, collecting words and pictures and building a story. Take a journey into your imagination while exploring the library in a new way. What story will the library tell you? Join the session to find out!