Jane Austen, Essex Book Festival, token gifts and more: World Book Day 2012

By Jennie Gillions | 01 March 2012
A photo of a manuscript in black ink on mottled paper
Jane Austen's manuscript for The Watsons, which was never published, will go on display at The Bodleian Library as part of World Book Day
© By permission of the Jane Austen's Fiction Manuscripts Digital Edition
The 15th World Book Day takes place today and will once again be dedicated to children and young people.

In the UK, the focus is on encouraging children to explore books and develop a love of reading through events in schools and libraries.

Organisers make a £1 book token available to everybody aged under 18, and have selected eight books that can be bought for just that £1; if you don’t want those particular books you can choose any book from a participating outlet and receive a £1 discount.

For details of events near you, visit www.worldbookday.com

Despite being primarily a children’s festival, World Book Day acts as a good advertising hook for organisers of other festivals and book-related events for adults. Some worth mentioning in London and nearby counties are:

A series of events on Jane Austen at the Bodleian Library, Oxford. In 2011 the Bodleian acquired a handwritten manuscript of The Watsons, Austen’s unfinished novel; this will be on display from 10am-4pm today alongside a manuscript of her juvenilia, entitled Volume the First, a decorative cross stitch sampler by an 11-or-12-year-old Austen and a portrait (allegedly of Jane Austen, but subject to debate).

Writing for Children is part of The Big Write at the Discovery Centre in Stratford, East London. This evening session is for adults who want to learn about writing and illustrating books for children.

A panel of experts, including Anne McNeill, Publishing Director at Hodder Children’s Books; Jodie Marsh, agent at United Agents; and Julia Eccleshare, Children’s Book Editor at The Guardian, will be a on hand to give advice. Click here for details.

A 40-minute University College London lunchtime lecture on The Great American Novel is being held at 1.15pm.

Dr Kasia Boddy will explore why, despite the concept being mocked when it was announced, the Great American Novel has persisted for 150 years. She will also look at the various forms the genre has taken. The lecture will be streamed live online here.

World Book Day also sees the launch of the 13th Essex Book Festival, a month-long celebration of books and reading with events for all ages spread across the county.

It includes appearances by writers Jon McGregor (who recently appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Open Book) and Tristan Gooley.

Man Booker Prize-longlisted McGregor will be talking about his new short story collection, This Isn't the Sort of Thing That Happens to Someone Like You. Gooley, the only living person to have sailed single-handedly and flown solo across the Atlantic, will discuss his new book The Natural Explorer.

For information on all the Essex Book Festival events, including talks by Charley Boorman, Alexander McCall Smith and Jodi Picoult, poetry evenings, children’s events and what promises to be an inspiring Book Artists’ Fair, visit www.essexbookfestival.com.

More on the venues and organisations we've mentioned:
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