Forget Me Not exhibition at Manchester Poetry Library

Sarah-Clare Conlon, Literature Editor
Manchester Poetry Library blue
Manchester Poetry Library

Forget Me Not: Poetry and pictures in Victorian and Edwardian greetings cards at Manchester Poetry Library, Manchester 11 July — 17 September 2022 Entrance is free — Visit now

Forget Me Not is a new exhibition exploring the relationship between poetry and pictures in Victorian and Edwardian greetings cards. The show aims to provide a snapshot of the Laura Seddon Collection, brimming with over 32,500 examples of 19th-century greetings cards and one of the largest and most comprehensive sources for their study.

From the overly sentimental and sweet to the bawdy and the surreal, the poetry revealed is at times eye-opening.

Laura Seddon donated her collection to Manchester Metropolitan University in 1992, and it remains the largest single donor collection of greeting cards in the country. This free exhibition at Manchester Poetry Library is even more expansive than the Easter display at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House earlier in the year, and features greeting cards for all occasions. From the overly sentimental and sweet to the bawdy and the surreal, the poetry revealed is at times eye-opening.

Ranging in date from the 1840s to the 1920s, with the majority from the 1880s-1890s – the “Golden Age” of the greetings card – you’ll get to see some of the many thousands of birthday, Christmas, New Year, Valentine’s (as well as the Vinegar Valentine) and, yes, Easter cards exchanged annually. As well as celebration, there are commemoration and mourning cards, reinforcing family ties, conveying emotions and making memories. Some are very rare, some represent the earliest examples of commercial cards (including Britain’s first commercially produced Christmas card), and some were created by renowned 19th-century artists and illustrators including Walter Crane and Kate Greenaway, as well as children’s books writer Beatrix Potter, famous for creating Peter Rabbit, among other animal characters.

And if you fancy taking inspiration from the exhibits, you are encouraged to create your own greeting card at the special craft station or get stuck into some Victorian puzzles and games – a great activity idea for the kids as well this summer.

This exhibition at the Poetry Library is part of a wider project to promote and celebrate the collection run by the Manchester Metropolitan University Special Collections Museum and Man Met’s Long Nineteenth Century Network in the Department of English, and it has been funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. The full Laura Seddon Collection can be viewed at the Reading Room of Special Collections Museum at Man Met’s All Saints Library by booking an appointment, if you fancy a walk across All Saints Park.

Forget Me Not: Poetry and pictures in Victorian and Edwardian greetings cards at Manchester Poetry Library, Manchester 11 July — 17 September 2022 Entrance is free Visit now

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