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1816-2016 ‘The Year Without a Summer’: A Bicentenary Symposium

June 3, 2016

National Library

Friday 3 June 2016, 11 am – 4 pm

National Library, Molesworth Street, Wellington, New Zealand

Keynote Speakers: Clara Tuite, John Gamble

The catastrophic 1815 eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia triggered a global disaster. Blasting the top off the mountain, the eruption killed thousands and propelled masses of dust into the stratosphere where it circulated in a veil around the earth for years. One of the results was the ‘year without a summer’, with snowfalls and frosts in the summer months of 1816. The relentless bad weather inspired artists and poets, with William Turner recording the strangely spectacular sunsets in his paintings, Mary Shelley creating her apocalyptic novel Frankenstein, and Lord Byron composing ‘Darkness’:

I had a dream, which was not all a dream.

The bright sun was extinguish’d, and the stars

Did wander darkling in the eternal space,

Rayless, and pathless, and the icy earth

Swung blind and blackening in the moonless air; (1-5)

This free, one-day symposium will provide a platform for discussion about various expressions of art, literature, science, and thought during the ‘year without a summer’. There will be an opportunity to see some of the 1816 treasures from the Alexander Turnbull Library Rare Book Collection.

Heidi Thomson, President, RSAA Romantic Studies Association of Australasia
National Library, New Zealand
Victoria University of Wellington


June 3, 2016
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National Library
Molesworth Street
Wellington, New Zealand
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Heidi Thomson
heidi.thomson [at]