Swedenborg and the English Romantics: items from the Swedenborg Collection

Emanuel Swedenborg | William Blake | S T Coleridge | C A Tulk | Philip James de Loutherbourg | John Flaxman | J J G Wilkinson and others

OPENING EVENING: THURSDAY 18 OCTOBER, 6-9PM (with drinks and canapés) | EXHIBITION DATES: 17 OCTOBER-2 NOVEMBER MONDAY TO FRIDAY 10AM TO 5PM | Swedenborg House, 21 Bloomsbury Way, London WC1A 2TH | FREE but please book via our Eventbrite page | curated by Stephen McNeilly

Special late opening till 8.30 pm Thursday 25 October

Described by Jorge Luis Borges as the most extraordinary man in recorded history, Emanuel Swedenborgis today acknowledged as one of the most important writers of the eighteenth century and a pioneering figure in the history of Western thought.  Philosopher, theologian, visionary, scientist and statesman, his works have influenced Honoré de Balzac, Charles Baudelaire, W B Yeats, Fyodor Dostoevsky, C G Jung, the Brownings, D T Suzuki, Czeslaw Milosz, Italo Calvino, A S Byatt, Iain Sinclair and many others, and his theory of correspondences is rightly understood as one of the defining influences on Romantic and Symbolist thought. 

Drawing exclusively from items held in the collection and archive at Swedenborg House,Swedenborg and the English Romanticslooks to draw special focus on the way in which this influence was felt by writers and artists based in England during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Described retrospectively as the Romantic movement—and characterized by a sensibility seeking to emphasise the role of the imagination—this group includes figures as diverse as William Blake, S T Coleridge, John Flaxman, Philip de Loutherbourg, C A Tulk, Henry Crabb Robinson, John Spurgin, J J G Wilkinson and many others. Each, in their own way saw Swedenborg as an exemplar of visionary genius. 

Organized in conjunction with the Bloomsbury Festival, the exhibition features over 30 unique objects and historical artefacts, some of which are on public display for the first time. Items displayed include personal effects, relics, notebooks, pencil sketches, marginalia, dream descriptions, poems, reviews, newspaper clippings, etchings and sculptural objects, mirroring the Romantic preoccupation with the fragmentary, transitory and ephemeral.


STEPHEN MCNEILLY is Museum Director at the Swedenborg Society and series editor of the Swedenborg Archive series. For the Swedenborg Society he has curated a number of exhibitions including: The Swedenborg Archive at Frith Street Gallery (2017); ad caput capitis: the lost skulls of Swedenborg with Iain Sinclair, Jeremy Millar and Colin Dickey (2017); Now It is Permitted: 24 Wayside Pulpits with Bridget Smith (2016),  D T Suzuki: an exhibition of manuscripts, letters and other items (2012) and Swedenborg House: Fourteen Interventions (2010) 

JAMES WILSON - Archivist and Display text

ALEX MURRAY - Archivist and Display text

JACOB CARTWRIGHT - Display Consultant and Production Manager


MAIA GAFFNEY-HYDE - Display Consultant

AVERY CURRAN - Content Consultant

DENISE PRENTICE - Social Media Strategist

ANTHONY FINNAGAN - Production Accountant