British Library

Photograph of exterior of British Library, bronze statue in foreground
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The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom, and one of the world's greatest libraries. Set up in 1973, with galleries formerly in the British Museum building, it moved to its spectacular flagship new home at St Pancras in Central London in 1997.

The John Ritblat Gallery: Treasures of the British Library, PACCAR Gallery of Living Words and the Workshop of Words, Sound and Images offer permanent displays and a changing programme of special thematic exhibitions. We also have the best permanent display of stamps and philately in the world.

The King's Library, housed in a 17-metre glass-walled tower at the heart of the building, plus a number of major works of art, can be seen by all visitors. The Library also offers a wide programme of events, including talks, music and discussions, all developing themes and ideas associated with the collections.

Venue Type:

Archive, Gallery, Library

Opening hours

Mon - Thu 09:30-20:00
Fri 09:30 - 18:00
Sat 09:30 - 17:00
Sun 11:00 - 17:00

Closed: 24 - 28 December, 1 January

Admission charges

FREE ENTRY to the Library

Major exhibitions are charged
Permanent Treasures Gallery FREE

The British Library is custodian of the most important research collection in the world, spanning almost 3,000 years and every continent. This covers books, journals, manuscripts, stamps, patents, sound recordings, printed music and maps.

The John Ritblat Gallery is home to a permanent exhibition of over 200 of the Library's most significant items. These include the Codex Sinaiticus (c. 350), Magna Carta (1215), the Gutenberg Bible (1455), and Shakespeare's First Folio (1623) as well as religious, literary, historical and musical works in the handwriting of Leonardo da Vinci, Lord Nelson, Lewis Carroll, Handel, Sir Paul McCartney and many others.

The award-winning Turning the Pages was developed by the Library and uses high quality digitised images to simulate actually turning the pages of a precious book. The PACCAR Gallery is home to temporary exhibitions. The Workshop of Words, Sound and Images is an interactive gallery which traces the story of book production and sound recording.

Collection details

World Cultures, Social History, Science and Technology, Religion, Personalities, Music, Literature, Decorative and Applied Art, Archives, Weapons and War

Exhibition details are listed below, you may need to scroll down to see them all.

The Philatelic Exhibition

  • 1 November 2014 — 1 November 2018 *on now

The Philatelic Exhibition of 80,000 items on the upper ground floor offers a unique opportunity to see many great rarities.

Currently on display are:
The Tapling Collection World to 1890; exhibited are countries M - Z on 2,400 pages (countries A - L are available to researchers by appointment)
The Mosely Collection of British Africa to 1935
The Bojanowicz Collection of Poland 1939 - 1946 stamps and postal history
The Model Collection of Germany 1945 - 1946 local provisional stamps
The Harrison Collection of die proofs 1911 -1937, engraved by J.A.C. Harrison
The Davies Collection of Libyan revenue stamps 1955 - 1969
The Fitz Gerald Collection of World Airmails to the 1930s (selected pages)
The Bailey Collection of Spanish Civil War stamps and postal history 1936 - 1939 (selected pages)
The Turner Collection of Great Britain and Ireland Railway Letter Stamps 1891 - 1940 (selected pages)
The Langmead Collection of Great Britain and Ireland Telegraph stamps, 1851 - 1881

An associated book, The British Library Treasures in Focus: Stamps, is available from the Shop.

Suitable for

  • Family friendly

Website

http://www.bl.uk/events/the-philatelic-exhibition

Treasures of the British Library

  • 1 November 2014 — 1 November 2018 *on now

The Sir John Ritblat Treasures of the British Library Gallery hosts more than 200 beautiful and fascinating items: magnificent hand-painted books from many faiths, maps and views, early printed books, literary, historical, scientific and musical works from over the centuries and around the world.

Half of the items now on display have not been seen by the public for many years.

Suitable for

  • Family friendly

Website

http://www.bl.uk/events/treasures-of-the-british-library

Maps and the 20th Century: Drawing the Line

Maps and the 20th Century: Drawing the Line

  • 4 November 2016 — 1 March 2017 *on now

That’s because 100 years of mapping technology – from the original sketch of today’s London Underground to the satellite imagery of the 1990s – has monitored and shaped the society we live in.

Two World Wars. The moon landings. The digital revolution. This exhibition of extraordinary maps looks at the important role they played during the 20th century. It sheds new light on familiar events and spans conflicts, creativity, the ocean floor and even outer space.

It includes exhibits ranging from the first map of the Hundred Acre Wood to secret spy maps, via the New York Subway. And, as technology advances further than we ever imagined possible, it questions what it really means to have your every move mapped.

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

Full Price: £12, Senior 60+: £10, Student: £5, Registered Unemployed: £5, Disabled: £5, Disabled Carer: free, Under 18: free, Friend of the British Library: free

Website

http://bit.ly/2d2zHsf

Quentin Blake: The Roald Dahl Centenary Portraits

Quentin Blake: The Roald Dahl Centenary Portraits

  • 5 January — 21 May 2017 *on now

To mark this phizz-whizzing anniversary, Sir Quentin Blake has drawn special portraits of some of the most celebrated characters from Dahl’s stories including Matilda, Charlie Bucket and the BFG. Find out which filthsome couple declined to appear together and which character quietly disapproved of the whole business as the British Library unveils the Roald Dahl Portraits.

‘I hope visitors to the British Library will be happy to see this group of well-known characters treated as though they were real people - which, of course, to many of us they are.’ - Sir Quentin Blake

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

Free

Website

http://bit.ly/2i69zv9

Events details are listed below. You may need to scroll down or click on headers to see them all. For events that don't have a specific date see the 'Resources' tab above.
Victorian Entertainments: There Will Be Fun

Victorian Entertainments: There Will Be Fun

  • 14 October 2016 — 12 February 2017 *on now

Performing pigs, magic tricks and pantomime! Roll up to celebrate some of the most popular entertainments of Victorian times performed in a variety of venues from fairground tents to musical stages.

Focusing on five colourful characters, follow their stories as we bring the worlds they inhabited to life. These Victorian A-listers include Dan Leno, the original pantomime dame and ‘funniest man on earth’, John Nevil Maskelyne, magician and manager of ‘England’s Home of Mystery’, and the great circus showman ‘Lord’ George Sanger. Also hear of those whose fame has now faded such as Annie De Montford, a mill worker turned mesmerist, and Evanion the Royal conjuror.

Step back in time with wonderfully decorative original posters, handbills, advertisements and tickets – all glorious examples of rare ephemera – alongside contemporary film and sound recordings. Explore the Victorians’ influence on the world of entertainment today. Without them we might never have experienced the joys of panto, stand-up comedy and even Britain’s Got Talent.

Every Saturday (15 October – 17 December, 15.00 – 17.00), a company of actors and performers will present archive material from the exhibition through the prism of contemporary performance.

Contemporary performance supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England

Suitable for

  • Family friendly
  • Especially for children

Admission

Free

Website

http://bit.ly/2e7Vdgh

Michael Chabon

Guardian Book Club: Michael Chabon

  • 17 January 2017 7-8:15pm *on now

Michael Chabon’s third novel, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay put its author on the literary map when it won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2001. It’s a novel of impressive breadth and scope that celebrates the golden age of the adventure comic book, and beautifully evokes the thriving popular culture of New York during the late 1930s and early 50s; an era of swing music, pulp novels and the genius of Orson Welles. When 18-year-old Josef Kavalier flees his Jewish home in Nazi-occupied Prague for New York, he and his cousin Sam form a business partnership by dreaming up a comic strip featuring a Nazi-hating superhero. While the two cousins eventually make their fortune, Josef is haunted by the urgent and very real need to liberate his family from the clutches of Hitler and the Third Reich.

Chabon talks to Book Club host John Mullan about his much-loved novel, an exquisitely penned, fast paced adventure that treads a heart-racing tight-rope between high comedy and bitter tragedy, while delving into those universal themes of identity and loss. Michael Chabon’s other books include The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, Wonder Boys, The Yiddish Policeman’s Union, Gentlemen of the Road and Telegraph Avenue – the first three of which have been adapted for the big screen.
This event is followed by a book signing.

Enjoy food and drink purchased from the Knowledge Centre Bar from 18.00 and after the event until the Bar closes at 22.00.

In association with Guardian Live

Suitable for

  • 16-17
  • 18+
  • Any age

Admission

Full price: £15 Senior 60+: £12 Student: £10 Registered Unemployed: £10 Under 18: £10

Website

http://bit.ly/2i6cx2x

Joan Bakewell

Witness to our Times: Joan Bakewell with Peter Hennessy

  • 20 January 2017 7-8:30pm

From her first appearance on BBC television in 1962 to her presentation of the groundbreaking series Taboo, Joan Bakewell has witnessed and reported on unprecedented developments in contemporary British social life and culture. She has broadcast extensively on the arts, on religion, and latterly on issues surrounding ageing, as well as serving on the boards of the National Theatre, the British Film Institute and the National Campaign for the Arts, to name but a few. To coincide with the acquisition of her archive by the British Library, she discusses her life and work with Peter Hennessy.

Joan Bakewell, Baroness Bakewell of Stockport, studied at Stockport High School for Girls and at Newnham College, Cambridge. Her books include The Centre of the Bed, She's Leaving Home, The View From Here, and most recently, Stop the Clocks - Thoughts on What I Leave Behind. She was appointed CBE in 1999, promoted to DBE in 2008, and made a life peer in 2010. Peter Hennessy, Baron Hennessy of Nympsfield, is Attlee Profesor of Contemporary British History, Queen Mary University of London and the author of, among others, Never Again: Britain 1945-51, Having It So Good: Britain in the Fifties, and The Secret State: Whitehall and the Cold War.

Suitable for

  • 14-15
  • 16-17
  • 18+
  • Any age

Admission

Full price: £10, Member: £7, Senior 60+: £8, Student: £7, Registered Unemployed: £7, Under 18: £7, Friend of the BL: £7

Website

http://bit.ly/2i6hxUH

Latin American Writers

Latin American Writers:Transatlantic Experience

  • 23 January 2017 6:30-8pm

Carlos Fonseca Suárez was born in Costa Rica in 1987 and grew up in Puerto Rico. His work has appeared in publications including the Guardian, Letras Libres, BOMB and The White Review, among others. He currently teaches at the University of Cambridge and lives in London. Coronel Lágrimas, his first novel, was published in 2015 by the prestigious Spanish publisher Anagrama, and in its English translation in 2016 by Restless Books.

Chloe Aridjis grew up in the Netherlands and Mexico. She studied comparative literature at Harvard followed by a PhD at Oxford in 19th-century French poetry and magic shows. Her first novel, Book of Clouds, won the Prix du Premier Roman Etranger in France in 2009. Her second novel, Asunder, is set in London's National Gallery. Chloe was the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2014. She recently co-curated the Leonora Carrington exhibition at Tate Liverpool (2015) and is starring in an artist's feature film, And Then We Saw the Daughter of the Minotaur, for release in summer 2017.

Suitable for

  • 16-17
  • 18+
  • Any age

Admission

Free event

Website

http://bit.ly/2gRU3Se

Maps and the 20th Century

Maps and the 20th Century: Curator Talk

  • 23 January 2017 1-2pm

The vast maps collection of the British Library is among its greatest treasures. Some of the most intriguing and revealing are now on display in the exhibition Maps and the 20th Century: Drawing the Line. At this free lunchtime event, lead curator Tom Harper outlines the process of selecting some of the most significant modern maps for the exhibition.

Suitable for

  • 14-15
  • 16-17
  • 18+
  • Any age

Admission

Free

Website

http://bit.ly/2hzGKK1

Sir John Major

My Old Man: Sir John Major in Conversation

  • 24 January 2017 7-8:30pm

Former Prime Minister Sir John Major's life is an extraordinary one. The son of music hall entertainers, Sir John made his father's story and the history of the British music hall the subject of his 2012 book My Old Man, and is the only British Prime minister with a theatrical stage name for a surname. Join Sir John in conversation with the British Library’s Victorian Entertainments: There Will Be Fun exhibition co-curator, Christopher Green.

Suitable for

  • 16-17
  • 18+
  • Any age

Admission

Full price: £12, Member: £8, Senior 60+: £10, Student: £8, Registered Unemployed: £8, Under 18: £8, Friend of the BL: £8

Website

http://bit.ly/2hQHQPz

Decadence

Decadence

  • 27 January 2017 7-8:30pm

Decadent literature in Britain blossomed in the 1890s around figures such as Oscar Wilde, Aubrey Beardsley and Arthur Symons. Under the maxim ‘Art for Art’s Sake’ they often defied moral convention and pursued the limits of sensation, wilfully transgressing Victorian respectability along the way. Come and defy Victorian morality as British Library Publishing Editor Jon Crabb introduces the literary Decadents’ major preoccupations of Artifice, Intoxication, Spirituality and Death.

A complimentary cocktail inspired by the ‘decadent’ theme is included in the ticket price.

Suitable for

  • 18+
  • Any age

Admission

Full price: £12, Member: £12, Senior 60+: £10, Student: £8, Registered Unemployed: £8, Under 18: £8.00

Website

http://bit.ly/2i6jFvH

P G Wodehouse

P G Wodehouse: A Musical Celebration

  • 28 January 2017 2:30-4pm

Had Wodehouse died in the early 1920's he would not have been remembered as an author, but as the first great lyricist of the American musical. In fact, exactly 100 years ago Wodehouse had five shows running simultaneously on Broadway. Wodehouse's great-grandchildren, singer Hal Cazalet and actress and performer Lara Cazalet, bookend a panel discussion of Wodehouse's life and lyricism with live performances of his musical works. Enjoy an afternoon of music, discussion and performance in celebration of the lesser-known life of P G Wodehouse as featured in the archive currently on loan to the British Library.

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

Full price: £15, Member: £10, Senior 60+: £12, Student: £10, Registered Unemployed: £10, Under 18: £10, Friend of the BL: £10

Website

http://bit.ly/2h2WKFp

The Roma Holocaust

A People Devoured: The Roma Holocaust

  • 30 January 2017 7-8:30pm

To facilitate the planned domination of the Aryan race, the Roma people were singled out for persecution and mass elimination on racial grounds under the rule of Nazi Germany. The Porajmos – meaning the ‘Devouring’ in some Romani languages – saw an unknown number detained, enslaved and murdered in a history closely paralleling the Jewish Holocaust. Join a panel of experts for a reflective evening of conversation, music and film.

In association with The Polish Cultural Institute

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

Full price: £10, Member: £10, Senior 60+: £8, Student: £7, Registered Unemployed: £7, Under 18: £7

Website

http://bit.ly/2h1Oh3X

Power, Territory and Borders

Power, Territory and Borders

  • 31 January 2017 7-8:30pm

An evening of presentations and discussions exploring the way that the world has been divided up into territories, with often arbitrary borders drawn on the global map. These lines and demarcations continue to be at the root of nationhood and identity, power and conflict. With Stuart Elden, Professor of Political Theory and Geography, University of Warwick and Tim Marshall, former Diplomatic Editor and foreign correspondent for Sky News, and author of the bestselling Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps That Tell You Everything You Need to Know About Global Politics. Chaired by BBC World News Today presenter Philippa Thomas.

Suitable for

  • 18+
  • Any age
  • 16-17

Admission

Full price: £12, Member: £8, Senior 60+: £10, Student: £8, Registered Unemployed: £8, Under 18: £8, Friend of the BL: £8

Website

http://bit.ly/2h316wj

John Burnside

John Burnside : Writing Across The Divide

  • 2 February 2017 7-8:30pm

John Burnside is amongst the most acclaimed writers of his generation and held the 2013 Eccles British Library Writer's Award. His novels, short stories, poetry and memoirs have won numerous awards, including the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize, the Whitbread Poetry Award, the Encore Award and the Saltire Scottish Book of the Year. In 2011 he became only the second person to win both the Forward and T S Eliot Prizes for poetry for the same book, Black Cat Bone. In 2015 he was a judge for the Man Booker Prize. He is a Professor in the School of English, St Andrews University. In this special London event he discusses his work across his career, as well as his two new books: the novel, Ashland & Vine, and the poetry collection, Still Life with Feeding Snake.

John will be in conversation with Christina Patterson. A writer, broadcaster and columnist, Christiana writes, for The Sunday Times and the Guardian, about society, culture, politics, books and the arts. She has been described by Clive James as ‘a wonderful, gutsy’ writer, and by the former poet laureate Andrew Motion as ‘one of the best columnists around’. Her book, The Art of Not Falling Apart, will be published by Atlantic in 2018.

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

Full price: £10, Member: £7, Senior 60+: £8, Student: £7, Registered Unemployed: £7, Under 18: £7, Friend of the BL: £7

Tales of Istanbul

Bettany Hughes and Elif Shafak: Tales of Istanbul

  • 3 February 2017 7-8:30pm

Istanbul, Byzantim, Constantinople, or just ‘The City’ – stands at the gateway between the East and West, and served as the capital of the Roman, Byzantine, Latin and Ottoman Empires. Phoenicians, Genoese, Venetians, Jews, Vikings, Azeris all once called a patch of this earth their home. But how does this history shape, influence and inspire contemporary narratives of Istanbul – both fictional and historical?

Bettany Hughes is an award-winning historian, author and broadcaster whose meticulously researched new history Istanbul: A Tale of Three Cities is published in January 2017. Her previous books – Helen of Troy, Goddess, Princess, Whore and The Hemlock Cup and Socrates, Athens and the Search for the Good Life – were published to great critical acclaim and worldwide success. Hughes has made a number of factual films and documentaries for the BBC, Channel 4, PBS, National Geographic, Discovery, The History Channel and ABC. She is a Research Fellow of King's College London and has been honoured with numerous awards including the Norton Medlicott Medal for History.

Elif Shafak is the acclaimed author of nine novels including The Bastard of Istanbul, The Architect's Apprentice and Honour, and is the most widely read female writer in Turkey. Her work has been translated into over forty languages and she regularly contributes to publications including The New York Times, the Guardian and Time magazine. Elif has been long-listed for the Orange Prize, the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction and the IMPAC Dublin Award, and shortlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize. Her latest novel, Three Daughters of Eve, is published in February 2017.

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

Full price: £12, Member: £12, Senior 60+: £10, Student: £8, Registered Unemployed: £8, Under 18: £8

Website

http://bit.ly/2h2aVsH

Where The Animals Go

Where The Animals Go: Big data and design

  • 3 February 2017 7:15-8:30pm

For thousands of years, tracking animals has meant following their physical traces – footprints, fallen feathers and nests. But cutting-edge technology is revolutionising our ability to map the movements and behaviour of animals.

Award-winning geographer James Cheshire reveals how he and designer Oliver Uberti worked with scientists and wildlife experts around the world to collect billions of data points, from tracking elephants to counting penguins, and bring them to life visually in their new book.

Enjoy food and drink purchased from the Knowledge Centre Bar from 18.00 and after the event until the Bar closes at 22.00.

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

Full price: £8, Member: £5, Senior 60+: £6, Student: £5, Registered Unemployed: £5, Under 18: £5, Friend of the BL: £5

Website

http://bit.ly/2h3oQRa

Jane Austen Study Day

  • 6 February 2017 9:30am-3pm

As part of our bicentenary programme, Jane Austen’s House Museum is partnering with the British Library Learning Department to offer an immersive study day for school and Further Education college groups.

The day will take place at the British Library and will feature talks from our trustee Professor Kathryn Sutherland, University of Oxford, and Professor John Mullan, University College London, with interactive workshop sessions and an opportunity to view a new display of Jane Austen’s juvenilia in the British Library's Treasures Gallery. Students will gain fresh insights into Austen's work and the context in which she was writing, as well as getting a taste of further study in literature.

Designed for A Level but also suitable for learners in Year 11, places are limited and offered on a first-come-first-served basis.

For further details and to book student places, see The British Library Events Page

Suitable for

  • 16-17
  • 18+

Where

British Library
The British Library
96 Euston Road
London
NW1 2DB

Admission

For further details and to book student places, see The British Library Events Page

Website

https://www.bl.uk/events/jane-austen-study-day-2017

a painting of a Regency society dance

Jane Austen Study Day

  • 6 February 2017 9:30am-3pm

2017 marks the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death. To coincide with the anniversary commemorations, British Library Learning is offering an immersive study day for school and Further Education college groups in partnership with Jane Austen’s House Museum.

The day will feature talks from Professor Kathryn Sutherland, University of Oxford and Professor John Mullan, University College London with interactive workshop sessions and an opportunity to view a new display of Jane Austen’s juvenilia in the British Library's Treasures Gallery.

Students will gain fresh insights into Austen's work and the context in which she was writing, as well as getting a taste of further study in literature. This event is free of charge. Designed for A Level but also suitable for learners in Year 11, places are limited and offered on a first-come-first-served basis.

Suitable for

  • 16-17

Admission

For further details and to book student places, contact the Schools Programme Manager using the 'Book now' button on the website.

Website

https://www.bl.uk/events/jane-austen-study-day-2017#sthash.SOBCTm3L.dpuf

Carol Ann Duffy

Carol Ann Duffy and Guests

  • 9 February 2017 7-8:30pm

Carol Ann Duffy has been Britain’s Poet Laureate since May 2009. Her much-loved poems blend humour and warmth with sharp social commentary. At this event she reads her poems alongside two emerging poets whose work she admires, Keith Hutson and Mark Pajak. They are introduced by Fiona Sampson, Director of the Roehampton Poetry Centre.

Born in the Gorbals in 1955, Carol Ann Duffy has been Poet Laureate for the past eight years. Her poems blend humour and warmth with sharp social commentary and are on GCSE and A-level syllabuses. Her work has been garlanded with prizes, including the Forward Prize, the T S Eliot Prize and the PEN/Pinter Prize in 2012.

Since starting to submit his poetry to journals three years ago, Keith Hutson has had work published in Magma, The North, The Rialto and Stand. His debut pamphlet, Routines, has recently been published by Poetry Salzburg.

Mark Pajak, born in Merseyside, has had poetry published in Magma, The North and The Rialto, and won first place in the 2016 Bridport Prize. His first pamphlet, Spitting Distance, was selected as a Laureate’s Choice and is published with smith | doorstop.

In partnership with The Royal Society of Literature and Roehampton Poetry Centre and sponsored by the T S Eliot Estate

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

Full price: £12, Member: £8, Senior 60+: £10, Student: £8, Registered Unemployed: £8, Under 18: £8, Friend of the BL: £8

Website

http://bit.ly/2hivdvX

Late at the Library: You Are Here!

Late at the Library: You Are Here!

  • 10 February 2017 7:30-11pm

Welcome to a fun, interactive night dedicated to maps, plans and atlases for the cartographically curious, soundtracked by special guest DJ Bob Stanley of Saint Etienne. Try out applications which use the latest in mapping technology, play games, meet some extraordinary artists, get inspired by maps in all their forms and make some of your own. Plus food and bars. The late-night opening of the British Library exhibition Maps and the 20th Century: Drawing the Line is included in the price.

In association with Geovation, the innovation hub of Ordnance Survey

Suitable for

  • 18+

Admission

Full price: £17.50

Website

http://bit.ly/2hMlilu

London Lines: Mapping the Metropolis

London Lines: Mapping the Metropolis

  • 10 February 2017 7-8:30pm

A rich and varied journey around the streets, tracks and layout of London in words, art, design and music. Hear the story of Phyllis Pearsall – who walked the city streets 80 years ago to compile her A-Z – from Gwyneth Herbert and Diane Samuels who created the musical The A-Z of Mrs.P. Celebrate the Tube map with design historian Mark Ovenden, and see the city turned into an extraordinary set of art works in Henry Eliot's book Curiocity.

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

Full price: £10, Member: £10, Senior 60+: £8, Student: £7, Registered Unemployed: £7, Under 18: £7

Website

http://bit.ly/2i6Trcp

The Writer Abroad

The Writer Abroad

  • 13 February 2017 7:15-8:30pm

Ever wondered how E M Forster fared in Egypt, what led Mary Wollstonecraft to travel through Scandinavia, how Britain looked through the eyes of Daniel Defoe, what Roald Dahl was doing in Libya and why Agatha Christie set so many of her books in the Middle East? Author, art historian and award-winning travel writer Lucinda Hawksley sheds light on these questions, drawing on material from her latest publication for the British Library, The Writer Abroad. Lucinda looks at the ways in which travel writing has evolved and how writers best known for fiction responded to the sights and customs they encountered on their journeys.

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

Full price: £8, Member: £5, Senior 60+: £6, Student: £5, Registered Unemployed: £5, Under 18: £5, Friend of the BL: £5

Website

http://bit.ly/2i0EQU0

Seema Anand

Of Love, Lust and Liability

  • 13 February 2017 7-8:30pm

From epic legends to folklore, Asian stories are subtly soaked in lust and desire. Professional Indian storyteller Seema Anand draws back the curtains of this hidden world in a lyrical evening of stories of love, tales of entanglements and narratives of passion for adults only.

Seema Anand is a London based mythologist and storyteller specialising in women's narratives and her work is associated with the UNESCO project for Endangered Oral Traditions. She is an acknowledged expert on the ancient erotic literatures and her seminal work on the Kama sutra is ground breaking as it looks at the place of sensuality, desire and love in society and the right of both men and women to feel sexual desire equally.

But most importantly she is a storyteller – and she tells tales to enchant, mesmerise and enlighten. Expect to be whisked away to faraway lands by Seema's stories and be introduced to a world of fantasy and wonder that exists only in our imaginations.

For ages 18+

Suitable for

  • 18+

Admission

Full price: £10, Member: £10, Senior 60+: £8, Student: £7, Registered Unemployed: £7

Website

http://bit.ly/2hA7hHd

Michael Longley

The W G Sebald Lecture: Michael Longley

  • 20 February 2017 7-8:30pm

One of Britain’s finest poets, Michael Longley delivers Releasing the Lyric: Translating Latin and Greek, on literary translation. He has received many awards for his sophisticated, but deceptively simple poetic studies of love, death, memory, history and nature, published over more than fifty years.

He reads from, and comments on his youthful versions from Sextus Propertius and progresses to later poems derived from Ovid’s Metamorphoses and Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, taking in Sappho and Tibullus on the way.

In association with the British Centre for Literary Translation, founded by writer W G Sebald

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

Full price: £12, Member: £12, Senior 60+: £10, Student: £8, Registered Unemployed: £8, Under 18: £8

Website

http://bit.ly/2h3zmb6

Global Conquest: How Railways took over the World

Global Conquest: How Railways took over the World

  • 21 February 2017 7-8:30pm

In 1830, the world's first railway opened between Liverpool and Manchester. By the end of the 19th century, there were 200,000 miles of track across the world and this continued unabated into the 20th century, with the longest, the Trans Siberian, completed in 1916.

By the time Harry Beck produced his influential London Underground map in 1933, cities and whole countries had been re-shaped by the possibilities of mass transit. Author, commentator and railway historian Christian Wolmar charts how the iron road spread so rapidly and extensively, and outlines the impact of this remarkable development.

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

Full price: £10, Member: £7, Senior 60+: £8, Student: £7, Registered Unemployed: £7, Under 18: £7, Friend of the BL: £7, BL Employee: £7

Website

http://bit.ly/2hiUYMr

Julian Mitchell

Julian Mitchell in Conversation with Polly Toynbee

  • 23 February 2017 7-9:30pm

Julian Mitchell began his playwriting career adapting novels for performance, starting with several novels by Ivy Compton-Burnett. He adapted Jane Austen’s Persuasion, Paul Scott’s Staying On and Ford Madox Ford’s The Good Soldier for television. Among his original works, he is best known for his play, Another Country, recently revived in the West End and on tour. The Library has recently acquired his archive, including his diaries and correspondence.

The archive includes successive drafts of Julian’s work providing a real insight into his creative process and the subjects which inspired him. In addition, the archive includes correspondence with a wide range of people from theatre and television including the actors John Gielgud and Alec Guinness, the American writer, Philip Roth and the poet, Stephen Spender. A series of personal diaries, photographs and press cuttings are also included.

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

Full price: £12, Member: £8, Senior 60+: £10, Student: £8, Registered Unemployed: £8, Under 18: £8, Friend of the BL: £8

Website

http://bit.ly/2h3I4Wy

Japan Now

Japan Now

  • 25 February 2017 11am-5pm

Japan Now returns to the British Library with a packed day exploring contemporary writing and culture from this fascinating country.

Alex Kerr, author of Lost Japan, reflects on the beauty and destruction of the Japanese landscape, and leading writers, including Hiromi Kawakami, author of Strange Weather in Tokyo, Masatsugu Ono and Yoko Tawada read from new work, alongside artists who view Japan through the lens of film and photography.

Programmed by Modern Culture in partnership with the Japan Foundation and Writers’ Centre Norwich and supported by Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation, the Nippon Foundation and the Japan Society

Suitable for

  • 18+

Admission

Full price: £20, Member: £20, Senior 60+: £16, Student: £14, Registered Unemployed: £14, Under 18: £14

Website

http://bit.ly/2hiVDgT

Kenneth Baker

Kenneth Baker: On the Burning of Books

  • 3 March 2017 7-8:30pm

The political sage Kenneth Baker, in an illustrated lecture, records the many times throughout history when books have been burnt for political, religious, or personal reasons. Ranging politically from Ancient China and the Nazis to Animal Farm and Chairman Mao; religiously, from the Spanish destruction of the Aztec civilisation to Bloody Mary or from Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses to Bibles in Islamist strongholds today; and personally, from Samuel Pepys and Lord Byron to Dickens’ letters, Hardy’s poems, Burton’s translations and Philip Larkin’s diaries. Baker reveals that although books, diaries and letters can be burnt, thanks to the invention of the printing press in the 16th century, very rarely can their content be expunged from the written record in history - the ‘delete’ button did not delete. Book burning today survives as a symbol, usually by desperate regimes, dictators or religious fanatics to impress the naive, warn the dissenter or rally the faithful.

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

Full price: £12, Member: £8, Senior 60+: £10, Student: £8, Registered Unemployed: £8, Under 18: £8, Friend of the BL: £8

Website

http://bit.ly/2hKg3Te

Wendy Moore

The Mesmerist: Science vs Superstition in the Victorian era

  • 6 March 2017 7:15-8:30pm

If you needed a tumour removed or a leg amputated in the early 1800s, the most surgeons could offer as pain relief was a large swig of brandy. Even less effective, physicians relied on leeches, cupping and toxic potions. So when mesmerism wafted over the Channel from France, physician John Elliotson was intrigued and resolved to harness its benefits for medicine. But his surgeon friend Thomas Wakley, editor of the influential Lancet, was disturbed and soon determined to expunge all trace of mesmerism from British shores.

Their battle throws into sharp focus fundamental questions about the fine dividing line between medicine and quackery, between science and superstition, in a Victorian society bedazzled by the magic of the music hall. And it poses questions – about hypnotism and other alternative therapies - for us today too.

Join Wendy Moore, author of Wedlock, as she tells the story of two pioneering men of science against the background of a nation in thrall to mesmerism.

Wendy Moore is a freelance journalist and author. Her first book, The Knife Man, won the Medical Journalists' Association Consumer Book Award in 2005 and was shortlisted for both the Saltire and Marsh Biography Awards. Her second book, Wedlock, has been highly acclaimed in reviews and was chosen as one of the 10 titles in the Channel 4 TV Book Club. How To Create The Perfect Wife was published to rapturous reviews on both sides of the Atlantic.

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

Full price: £8, Member: £8, Senior 60+: £6, Student: £5, Registered Unemployed: £5, Under 18: £5

Website

http://bit.ly/2hYija3

Lara Feigel

The Art of Non-Fiction

  • 6 March 2017 7-8:30pm

As non-fiction writers become more innovative in finding new structures and voices with which to tell their stories, how do they decide on their approach? What are the literary models on which they draw? Join our panel of authors as they discuss the art of non-fiction today.

Olivia Laing is the author of The Lonely City, The Trip to Echo Spring, shortlisted for the Costa biography prize, and To the River.

Hisham Matar’s first novel, In the Country of Men, won several prizes, including the 2007 RSL Ondaatje Prize. Last year he published The Return, which takes us on a journey to find his father. It won the Slightly Foxed Best First Biography Prize and was shortlisted for the Costa Biography Prize.

Lara Feigel is the author of The Love-charm of Bombs and The Bitter Taste of Victory, in both of which she writes history with the structure of a novel.

Their conversation is chaired by Lisa Appignanesi, author of Trials of Passion and Mad, Bad and Sad, which has expanded the creative possibilities of the Freudian case history.

This event is followed by a book signing. In partnership with The Royal Society of Literature and the Centre for Modern Literature and Culture at King’s College London

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

Full price: £10, Member: £10, Senior 60+: £8, Student: £7, Registered Unemployed: £7, Under 18: £7

Website

http://bit.ly/2hKdPmH

Typesetting Feminism: Virago Press

Typesetting Feminism: Virago Press

  • 7 March 2017 7-8:30pm

An evening of discussion and film on the eve of International Women's Day with Carmen Callil, Lennie Goodings and Claire Whalley. In 1973, inspired by the radical feminist magazine Spare Rib, 30-year-old publicist Carmen Callil shook the foundations of the publishing world by setting up her own women’s publishing house, aiming to make a revolutionary change by giving women a voice, by giving them back their history and reclaiming women’s literature. Carmen Callil, founder of Virago Press, discusses Virago's journey with its current publisher, Lennie Goodings, and Claire Whalley, Managing Director of What Larks Productions, who recently made Virago: Changing The World One Page At A Time, a documentary film charting this history. Extracts from the film will also be screened as part of the event.
This event celebrates the British Library’s recent acquisition of the Carmen Callil Archive, which joins the previously held Virago Archive.

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

Full price: £8, Member: £8, Senior 60+: £6, Student: £5, Registered Unemployed: £5, Under 18: £5

Website

http://bit.ly/2i4yeAS

Rebels in the Archives

Rebels in the Archives

  • 8 March 2017 7-8:45pm

The British Library celebrates International Women's Day with a conversation on the power and potential of archiving feminist movements as Jill Liddington, Abi Morgan, Heidi Safia Mirza and Deborah Withers discuss their engagement with archives of activism. Margaretta Jolly, project director of Sisterhood and After: An Oral History of the Women’s Liberation Movement, chairs this panel of influential feminists as they debate questions of politics, representation and preservation.

Jill Liddington is a writer, historian and Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Leeds.

Abi Morgan is a BAFTA and Emmy Award winning writer and producer.

Heidi Safia Mirza is Professor of Race, Faith and Culture.

Deborah Withers is a writer, curator, researcher and publisher.

Margaretta Jolly is a Reader in Cultural Studies and director of the Centre for Life History and Life Writing Research, University of Sussex.

In association with the Centre for Life History and Life Writing Research

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

Full price: £8, Member: £5, Senior 60+: £6, Student: £5, Registered Unemployed: £5, Under 18: £5, Friend of the BL: £5

Website

http://bit.ly/2i4pudI

National Life Stories Lecture 2017

National Life Stories Lecture 2017: David Kynaston

  • 13 March 2017 6:30-8pm

Uncovering the unspoken: memory and post-war Britain reflects on memory and its place in the historical analysis of post-war British society.

David Kynaston has been a professional historian since 1973 and has written 18 books, including The City of London, a widely acclaimed four-volume history which drew on National Life Stories’ ‘City Lives’ oral history interviews. He is also the author of Austerity Britain, Family Britain, and Modernity Britain, the first three titles in a series of books covering the history of post-war Britain (1945-1979) under the collective title Tales of a New Jerusalem. Austerity Britain was named ‘Book of the Decade’ by The Sunday Times. He is an honorary professor at Kingston University.

National Life Stories (NLS) is an independent charitable trust within the British Library whose expertise and focus is oral history fieldwork. Established in 1987, NLS has initiated a series of innovative interviewing projects funded almost entirely from sponsorship, charitable and individual donations. Initiated in 2014, this lecture series provides a platform for leading scholars and thinkers to share original and challenging ideas about oral history theory, methodologies and practices.

In partnership with National Life Stories

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

Full price: £10, Member: £7, Senior 60+: £8, Student: £7, Registered Unemployed: £7, Under 18: £7, Friend of the BL: £7

Website

http://bit.ly/2huutng

Joseph Conrad

Joseph Conrad Study Day

  • 13 March 2017 2-5:30pm

This study day considers Conrad’s career as a novelist and his contribution to British culture in the year that has been designated ‘Joseph Conrad Year’ in Poland. Joseph Conrad, probably now best known as the author of Heart of Darkness and The Secret Agent, was born in 1857 at a time when Poland had been divided between Austria, Prussia and Russia. He first came to Britain in 1878 as an apprentice on a British steamer. He spent the next sixteen years in the British Merchant Navy before beginning his career as a novelist with Almayer’s Folly.
Professor Robert Hampson FEA, FRSA initiates an afternoon of expert discussion with a lecture on Conrad as ‘England’s Polish Genius’, followed by a conversation around ‘Conrad and London’ and a panel of novelists, including Giles Foden, discussing Conrad’s influence on their work.

In association with the British Council and the Joseph Conrad Society (UK)

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

Full price: £15, Member: £10, Senior 60+: £12, Student: £10, Registered Unemployed: £10, Under 18: £10, Friend of the BL: £10

Website

http://bit.ly/2iiByaC

In Praise of Unusual Libraries

The Idler Presents: In Praise of Unusual Libraries

  • 17 March 2017 7-8:30pm

Tom is joined by Meirian Jump of the Marx Memorial Library and Workers’ School in Clerkenwell, Peter Francis of Gladstone’s Residential Library in North Wales, and Sara Wingate-Gray, UCL academic and the Itinerant Poetry Librarian. Learn about these refuges for quiet study and help plan more libraries.

In association with The Idler

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

Full price: £8, Member: £8, Senior 60+: £6, Student: £5, Registered Unemployed: £5, Under 18: £5

Website

http://bit.ly/2hfHHIO

Stefan Zweig

Stefan Zweig: European, Humanist, Collector

  • 20 March 2017 10:30am-4pm

A study day to mark the 75th anniversary of the death of Stefan Zweig

The Austrian writer Stefan Zweig (1881-1942) was one of the most widely read and translated authors of his day. Zweig is less well known for owning a prestigious collection of literary, musical and historical manuscripts, which was most generously donated to the British Library by his heirs in 1986. The collection comprises autograph musical scores from composers such as Beethoven, Mozart and Wagner, as well as original manuscripts of authors including Goethe, Balzac and Byron.

Join experts on Zweig as they discuss the cosmopolitan writer’s hopes for European unity and how his manuscript collection – his ‘magical circle of sublime figures’ – came to express these ideals. The study day commemorates the 75th anniversary of Zweig’s death, a death that was in part a result of his years in exile and thus his disconnection from the European culture he realised was lost to him forever. A new catalogue of the British Library’s Stefan Zweig Collection of Literary and Historical Manuscripts will be launched at a reception following the study day.

An accompanying display in the Treasures Gallery will showcase some of the treasures from Zweig’s collection.

Suitable for

  • 18+

Admission

Full price: £10, Member: £10, Senior 60+: £8, Student: £7, Registered Unemployed: £7, Under 18: £7

Website

http://bit.ly/2i4G6SO

Music and poetry from the Zweig Collection

Music and poetry from the Zweig Collection

  • 20 March 2017 From 7pm

An evening of live music and readings, showcasing some of the ‘Sublime Figures’ - composers and writers – who are included in Stefan Zweig’s collection of manuscripts, now held at the British Library. The collection includes masterpieces by Mozart, Bellini, Keats, Goethe and Balzac. The British Library’s curators select some of their favourite works and bring them to life.

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

Full price: £10, Member: £7, Senior 60+: £8, Student: £7, Registered Unemployed: £7, Under 18: £7, Friend of the BL: £7

Website

http://bit.ly/2hutbZr

The Eccles British Library Writer's Award Festival

The Eccles British Library Writer's Award Festival

  • 23 March 2017 7-9pm

The award (formerly Writer in Residence) of £20,000 is presented annually to two authors whose writing projects depend substantially on materials in the British Library’s collection relating to North America. There have been 12 winners of the award, six of whom will have published their volumes by the end of 2017: Naomi Wood, Mrs Hemingway; Andrea Wulf, The Invention of Nature: Alexander Von Humboldt’s New World; Olivia Laing, The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone; Sheila Rowbotham, Rebel Crossings: New Women, Free Lovers and Radicals in Britain and the United States; John Burnside, Ashland and Vine; and Erica Wagner, Chief Engineer: The Man Who Built the Brooklyn Bridge. Six other books are underway, by Benjamin Markovits, Sarah Churchwell, Alison MacLeod, Will Atkins, Hannah Kohler and Bob Stanley. All the authors will gather for a one-night mini literary festival and discussion celebrating their work. Publication of a set of portraits of the authors made by Eccles Photography Fellow, Alexander McIntyre will be launched at the same time.

The event will include a wine reception.

Sponsored by the Eccles Centre for American Studies at the British Library

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

Full price: £12, Member: £8, Senior 60+: £10, Student: £8, Registered Unemployed: £8, Under 18: £8, Friend of the BL: £8

Website

http://bit.ly/2hcYquu

Will Self

On Being Archived: Will Self, Hanif Kureishi and Guests

  • 24 March 2017 7-8:30pm

His archive includes drafts of novels, his cartoons, a full hard-drive, family documents and letters received from other writers. At this event he meets Hanif Kureishi, also archived at the Library, to explore the experience of passing on much of one’s life’s work to the national collection, where it is joining that of Harold Pinter, John Berger, J G Ballard, Joan Bakewell, and many others.

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

Full price: £12, Member: £12, Senior 60+: £10, Student: £8, Registered Unemployed: £8, Under 18: £8

Website

http://bit.ly/2hus64a

Iain Sinclair

Encore: The Phenomenon of the Second Novel

  • 28 March 2017 7-8:30pm

Some novelists hit a remarkable seam on their second outings, and among the second novels that have earned their place in history are The Mill on the Floss, Pride and Prejudice, The Master and Margarita, Fahrenheit 451 and Midnight’s Children.

The £10,000 Encore Award for the best second novel of the year was first awarded in 1990 and is sponsored by Lucy Astor. The award fills a niche in the catalogue of literary prizes by celebrating the achievement of outstanding second novels. Past recipients include RSL Fellows Colm Toíbín, Anne Enright, Ali Smith and most recently in 2015, Sunjeev Sahota for his book The Year of the Runaways which was also shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.

In a conversation chaired by literary journalist Alex Clark, one of this year’s judges, Nikita Lalwani and past winners Iain Sinclair and Evie Wyld speak about the pleasures and pitfalls of writing and reading fictional follow-ups.

The shortlist for the 2017 RSL Encore Award will be announced at this event.

In partnership with The Royal Society of Literature

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

Full price: £10, Member: £10, Senior 60+: £8, Student: £7, Registered Unemployed: £7, Under 18: £7

Website

http://bit.ly/2hYCWTd

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Campaign! Make an Impact

http://www.bl.uk/campaign

This national cross-curricular programme uses history to inspire young people into active citizenship. Historical campaigns inspire and teach campaign skills, enabling children and young people to run their own campaigns about issues that affect them today. It’s based around a three step model on our website.
Students can explore campaign skills, and learn how campaigners have constructed their messages in creative ways. There is guidance on how to plan and carry out your campaign.

In the Teachers and Museums section you can find out more about how the model works and how your organisation can get involved.

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