1816: The Year without a Summer

Ref: C2342015

As the Napoleonic wars came to an end, a catastrophic volcanic eruption in Indonesia threw huge clouds of dust and ash into the atmosphere, affecting global weather patterns such that the summer of 1816 was one of the wettest and coldest ever recorded. Famine and suffering were rife around the world. Yet these grim conditions inspired some of the greatest literature and art of the Romantic period, including Mary Shelley's 'Frankenstein', the publication of 'Kubla Khan', and some of the finest paintings Turner and Constable ever produced.

Course aim

This short course takes a close look at the momentous year 1816.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Explain in broad terms why the weather was so wet and cold in 1816.
  • Give some examples of the effects of the 1816 weather on society, literature and art.
  • (Optional) Feel inspired to read, research or view one of the works discussed in more detail.
  • Discuss contemporary parallels in terms of climate change, public mood and artistic inspiration.

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • Depending on numbers, there will be an opportunity to discuss what you have learned with the tutor, but this course is only 2 hours long.

What else do I need to know?

  • Nothing else is needed

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading or pre course work is required

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course

Download full course information sheet

1816: The Year without a Summer


As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you book. Please could we ask that you check the list below to ensure you meet our basic criteria:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2019
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

Not sure or have further questions? Contact courseenquiries@wea.org.uk

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