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Writers of Influence: Shakespeare to J.K. Rowling

William Shakespeare, “Chandos” Portrait. Attrib. John Taylor (detail) © National Portrait Gallery, London
Saturday 17 April 2010 - Saturday 3 July 2010

Taking visitors to the Graves Gallery on a journey from the Bard to Jarvis Cocker, a new exhibition from the National Portrait Gallery celebrates some of Britain’s finest literary talents. 

In a first for Sheffield, Writers of Influence: Shakespeare to J.K. Rowling sees the NPG’s ‘Chandos’ portrait of William Shakespeare on tour outside of London for the very fi rst time. This unique painting is the only portrait of the Bard that has any claim to have been painted from life. The exhibition features other memorable names from the literary hall of fame, such as Geoffrey Chaucer, Agatha Christie, John Lennon, David Bowie, alongside contemporary lyricists such as Jarvis Cocker and Dizzee Rascal.

In another first for Museums Sheffield, a group of young curators from the city have worked with their peers in Plymouth, Southampton and Sunderland to select the portraits which appear in Writers of Influence: Shakespeare to J.K. Rowling. Discover the connections the group made between writers across the centuries and tell us who would make it into your own top literary list. 

Writers of Influence: Shakespeare to J.K. Rowling is a collaborative exhibition between the National Portrait Gallery, Museums Sheffi eld, Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery, Southampton City Art Gallery and Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens.


Taking visitors to Sheffield’s Graves Gallery on a journey from Jane Austen to Jarvis Cocker, a new exhibition of over 60 works from the National Portrait Gallery will celebrate Britain’s finest literary talents. In a landmark event, Writers of Influence: Shakespeare to J.K. Rowling will see the National Portrait Gallery loan of its iconic ‘Chandos’ portrait of William Shakespeare, the very first work it acquired in 1856. Never before shown in the UK outside London, the painting is the only portrait of the Bard that has any claim to have been painted from life. It will go on display alongside a host of significant literary portraits, including memorable images of George Byron, Charles Dickens, Oscar Wilde, Virginia Woolf, Wilfred Owen, Agatha Christie, Roald Dahl, Zadie Smith and Dizzie Rascal, as well as casts taken from the faces of John Keats and William Blake.