Spring literary events at the British Library

Austentatious. Photography © Idil Sukan

Austentatious. Photography © Idil Sukan

Thought libraries were just for books? The British Library is due to host all kinds of literary events this Feb and March, from talks by Margaret Atwood and Hanif Kureishi, to exhibitions and festivals.

Friday 7 February and Saturday 8 February
Fancy watching an impromptu comedy play in period costume in the style of Jane Austen? Austentatious: An Improvised Novel will offer up a deliciously witty story based entirely on audience suggestions.

Georgian BallFriday 14 February
Seeking a night of romance? Enjoy a Georgian inspired banquet, hosted in the library’s grand Entrance Hall, complete with interactive performance, baroque musicians and quadrilles at The Georgian Valentine’s Ball


Tuesday 18 February
Want to have your brain stirred by the words of Margaret Atwood? In Atwood in Translationland, award-winning writer Margaret Atwood explores her adventures in translations in 44 languages over 45 years.

Saturday 8 and Sunday 9 March
Searching inspiration?
In anticipation of the announcement of the first winner of a major new award for international fiction sponsored by The Folio Society, the British Library will host a new, two-day festival – The Folio Prize Fiction Festival.

The participants in the inaugural programme will include A S Byatt, Michael Chabon, Sebastian Faulks, Lavinia Greenlaw, Sarah Hall, Nam Le, Pankaj Mishra, Ali Smith and many others, to reflect the diversity of contemporary fiction writing and storytelling across the globe.

Festival of the Spoken Nerd: I Chart the Library. Photography © Idil Sukan

Festival of the Spoken Nerd: I Chart the Library. Photography © Idil Sukan

Monday 10 March
Feeling sci-curious? Join stand-up mathematician Matt Parker, geeky songstress Helen Arney, and experiments maestro Steve Mould, for an evening of live comedy, music and experiments at the Festival of the Spoken Nerd: I Chart the Library.

Amber Jane Butchart. Photography © Jo Duck

Amber Jane Butchart. Photography © Jo Duck

Friday 28 March
Tempted by the glamour of Jazz Age Hollywood? Allow fashion expert extraordinaire Amber Jane Butchart to transport you to the glitz and glamour of Jazz Age Hollywood and the costumes that impacted London fashion in Puttin’ on the Glitz – Fashion and Film in the Jazz Age.

Saturday 29 March
Keen to learn more about Hanif Kureishi’s film career?
 From My Beautiful Laundrette (1985) to Le Weekend (2013), celebrated filmmaker, screenwriter and novelist Hanif Kureishi reflects on his work in film with some of his collaborators as they introduce screenings of some of his highly acclaimed work.

Hanif Kureishi. Photography © Kier Kureishi

Hanif Kureishi. Photography © Kier Kureishi

Find all events and exhibitions at www.bl.uk/whatson.


Audio CD review – Short Stories Volume 2

Short Stories Volume 2This new release from the British Library is a feast of short stories read by their writers, mined from the library’s rich archives.

It comprises three CDs, each holding four stories, including Beryl Bainbridge’s ‘Kiss Me, Hardy’, E M Forster’s ‘Mr Andrews’ and Seán Ó’Faoláin’s wry ‘One True Friend.”

Hearing the stories in the voices of the people who dreamt them up is an uncanny sensation, rather like having a presence in their writing room, or a conversation with them over the phone. It’s wonderfully intimate.

The stories vary immensely in tone, with notable highlights including Rose Tremain’s sparky and nostalgia-stirring ‘Extra Geography’, Osbert Sitwell’s deliciously macabre ‘Staggered Holiday’ (delivered in a spine-shivering voice!), and the lift and pull of Fay Weldon’s skilfully wrought ‘New Year’s Day’.

Listening to the authors relay their tales in their own unique accents and with their own particular emphases gives you the chance to interpret the tales through their delivery – a rare opportunity! As Steve Cleary, Curator of Drama and Literature at the British Library, says: “Although writers are not always the best performers of their own work, they bring a quality of authenticity to their readings that can never be matched by an actor.”

The perfect accompaniment to any journey, and ideal auditory inspiration fuel

The 3CD set is available from the British Library Shop (tel: +44 (0)20 7412 7735 / email: bl-bookshop@bl.uk) and online at www.bl.uk/shop as well as other bookshops throughout the UK.