Ten years ago: Guardian names 10 best museum writing

Here’s an interesting anniversary. Ten years (plus three days) later, this reader’s list surfaced in an Updike search: “John Mullan’s 10 of the best: museums.”

John Keats is here: “On Seeing the Elgin Marbles for the First Time” at the British Museum.

So is Henry James’ short story “Julia Bride,” which opens on the steps of the Metropolitan Museum.

Thomas Hardy’s poem “In the British Museum” also makes the cut, as does J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye (Holden Caufield visits the Natural History Museum in New York City). P.D. James’ The Murder Room (set in a small, family-owned museum on the edge of Hampstead Heath), Philip Pullman’s The Subtle Knife (with its visit to the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford), Anthony Horowitz’s Scorpia Rising (again at the British Museum), A.S. Byatt’s The Children’s Book (which opens at the South Kensington Museum), China Miéville’s Kraken (and the squid at the British Museum of Natural History), AND . . .

John Updike’s “Museums and Women,” the title story from Museums and Women and Other Stories (1972): “Updike’s story features a man who has always associated museum visits with his attachment to women – from his mother, to the girl with whom he shared school trips, to his wife, whom he met in a university museum. When he has an affair, it is with a woman who works in a museum, and they visit the Frick and the Guggenheim together.”

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