A new exhibition at the British Library: Writing Britain: Wastelands to Wonderlands (£9, 11th May – 25th Sept 2012 — although Time Out claims it will run to 25th Nov?). The show explores how authors have shaped our understanding of the British landscape.

Here in the West Midlands, the Malvern hills are probably our most “re-enchanted by writing” place. From William Langland, through A.E. Housman (helped along by the music of Elgar and Vaughan Williams), John Masefield (“On Malvern Hill”), Auden, Geoffrey Hill (the Malverns are a presence in Mercian Hymns), and even David Rudkin’s screenplay for Penda’s Fen, and the lyrics of The Dancing Did. They also bore David Mitchell (Cloud Atlas). Even old Alfred Watkins could be said to have chipped in, with his notions on ley-lines — which influenced many a ‘mystical England’ novel in the 1970s.

To accompany the exhibition there are some evening panel discussions, including: a “Britain in Writing” discussion on 11th May, part of the launch for Granta‘s new 119th issue “Britain”; an evening with Margaret Drabble on “A Sense of Place”; and “Unreal City? London in Writing”. Hopefully someone will podcast these after the events.