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Crossed Lines - A crowdsourced exhibition capturing the history of the telephone in literature

A crowd-sourced online exhibition of literary telephones has launched celebrating the history of the phone call in literature from the late 19th Century to the present day.

Crossed Lines exhibition logo
Crossed Lines exhibition

Selected from nominations received from around the world, the exhibition features more than eighty works spanning over 130 years, exploring the long history of creative calling in texts by authors from Virginia Woolf to J K Rowling.

Crossed Lines began as a research project led by Dr Sarah Jackson at Nottingham Trent University, focusing on the enduring relationship between writing and calling.

Dr Sarah Jackson, from Nottingham Trent University, said: “It has been wonderful to see the range of nominations for literary phones coming in. In addition to familiar titles by authors such as Agatha Christie and Terry Pratchett, the exhibition has brought to our attention gems by Vladimir Mayakovsky, Fatou Diome and Eula Biss. And the exhibition is still growing: if you have any nominations you’d like to see featured, you can still submit your suggestions.”

‘For heaven’s sake, don’t leave me alone with this man!’ she exclaimed. ‘Or he’ll seduce me down the telephone. He’s terribly passionate.’ – Christopher Isherwood, Goodbye to Berlin (1939)

To discover the role of telephony for authors such as Christopher Isherwood as exampled above, please visit To submit a contribution, contact Dr Sarah Jackson at

In addition to the online exhibition, the project also features a collaboration with the Science Museum in London. Entitled The Exchange, a diverse group of artists were commissioned to explore the role of the telephone in cultural production and reception. Inspired by objects in the Science Museum Group Collection, The Exchange features art, poetry and spoken word by novelist and journalist Will Self, artist Maya Chowdhry, beatboxer Danny Ladwa, poets Lisa Kelly, Serge ♆ Neptune, Nadia Nadarajah and DL Williams, and sound artist Aura Satz.

For more information on The Exchange, visit or

  • Notes for editors

    Press enquiries please contact Sarah McLeod, Corporate PR Manager, on telephone +44 (0)115 848 8735, or via email.

    Funded by the Arts and Humanities Council in partnership with the Science Museum Group and BT Archives, Crossed Lines is a research project led by Dr Sarah Jackson at Nottingham Trent University.

    About Nottingham Trent University

    Nottingham Trent University (NTU) was named University of the Year 2019 in the Guardian University Awards. The award was based on performance and improvement in the Guardian University Guide, retention of students from low-participation areas and attainment of BME students.

    NTU was also the Times Higher Education University of the Year 2017, and The Times and Sunday Times Modern University of the Year 2018. These awards recognise NTU for its high levels of student satisfaction, its quality of teaching, its engagement with employers, and its overall student experience.

    The university has been rated Gold in the Government’s Teaching Excellence Framework – the highest ranking available.

    It is one of the largest UK universities. With nearly 32,000 students and more than 4,000 staff located across four campuses, the University contributes £900m to the UK economy every year. With an international student population of more than 3,000 from around 100 countries, the University prides itself on its global outlook.

    The university is passionate about creating opportunities and its extensive outreach programme is designed to enable NTU to be a vehicle for social mobility. NTU is among the UK’s top five recruiters of students from disadvantaged backgrounds and was awarded University of the Year in the UK Social Mobility Awards 2019.

Published on 16 November 2020
  • Category: Press office; School of Arts and Humanities