British Library events and exhibitions

For further information visit www.bl.uk/whatson or call +44 (0)1937 546 546.

Coming Soon: Royal Manuscripts: the Genius of Illumination

11 November 2011 – 13 March 2012 , PACCAR Gallery £10/U18s and Schools Free
A major new exhibition showcasing the hidden jewels in the British Library’s collection: a unique treasure trove of medieval and Renaissance manuscripts assembled by English kings and queens over 700 years.

Arthur Conan Doyle: The Unknown Novel

9 September 2011 - 5 January 2012 / Sir John Ritblat Gallery / Free
Arthur Conan Doyle’s first attempt at writing a novel, The Narrative of John Smith, will be showcased for the first time together with other items drawn from the British Library’s extensive Conan Doyle collection.

Michael Katakis Photographs

11 October – 20 November 2011 / Folio Society Gallery / Free
This exhibition features selected items from the recently-acquired Katakis Archive and coincides with the publication by the British Library of his most recent book, Michael Katakis, Photographs and Words.

A Hankering after Ghosts: Charles Dickens and the Supernatural

29 November 2011 – 4 March 2012 / Folio Society Gallery / Free
The exhibition examines Dickens personal ideas about the supernatural which feature heavily in his writing, and how it reflects the evolving scientific theories and beliefs prevalent in 19th-century England.

Mary Queen of Scots

7 October 2011 – 15 January 2012 / Sir John Ritblat Gallery / Free
The exhibition focuses on Mary Queen of Scots final years as a prisoner in England showcasing a collection of recently discovered letters and unique manuscripts from the British Library’s archives.

Out of this World: Science Fiction but not as you know it

Until 25 September / PACCAR GALLERY / Free
Last chance to see the British Library’s futuristic exhibition revealing how Science Fiction is not just a literary genre but as a way of understanding the world and exploring alternative ideas about science, politics, society, the future and the nature of reality itself.

The World of Mervyn Peake

Until 2 October / Folio Society Gallery / Free
Best Known for Gormenghast, Mervyn Peake was also an accomplished painter, playwright, illustrator and poet. This exhibition examines his achievements using materials from the British Library including items from the recently acquired Peake archive.

Treasures of the British Library

Permanent exhibition / Sir John Ritblat Gallery / Free
Discover some of the most exciting and significant books in the world, from Captain Scott’s diary and the Gutenberg Bible to the original Alice in Wonderland manuscript and the Beatles. Over 250 beautiful and fascinating items are on display: sacred texts from many faiths, maps and views, early printing, literary, historical, scientific and musical works from over the centuries and around the world.


Sci-Fi Events

Heartwood: Telling the Matter of Britain

Friday 2 September 18.30 – 20.00 / Conference Centre / £7.50/£5 concessionsThe mythic fantasy of the late Robert Holdstock and others discussed by authors Brian Aldiss, Stephen Baxter and Lisa Tuttle, scholar Donald E. Morse and other special guests. Chaired by Graham Sleight.

Worlds of Wonder? SOLD OUT

Sunday 4 September 14.30 – 16.00 What is the future of the Future?
Speakers including Rachel Armstrong, Neil Gaiman, Peter F. Hamilton and critic Kari Sperring discuss whether science fiction speculation is still capable of creating a sense of wonder or is in danger of falling behind the pace of change. Chair by Farah Mendlesohn.

Lemistry. A Celebration of Stanisław Lem

Friday 9 September 18.30 – 20.00 / Conference Centre / £7.50/£5 concessions
A celebration of the visionary Polish science fiction author Stanislaw Lem best known for his twice-filmed novel Solaris. With writers John Gray, Toby Litt, Wojciech Orliński and Adam Roberts, and film makers Ari Folman and The Brothers Quay.

J G Ballard: Further Reflections

Friday 23 September 18.30 – 20.30 / Conference Centre / £7.50/£5 concessions
The provocative and influential work of J G Ballard explored by fellow authors John Gray and Toby Litt, film producer Jeremy Thomas, partner Claire Walsh and his daughters Bea and Fay Ballard. Chaired by Philip Dodd


Royal Events

All That Glisters: the Art of Illumination

Friday 18 November 18.30 – 20.30 / Conference Centre / £7.50/£5 concessions
Professor of Medieval Manuscripts, Michelle Brown explores the historical and artistic significance of illuminated manuscripts and what they tell us about those who commissioned, made and used them. Also calligrapher and illuminator, Patricia Lovett demonstrates the techniques of writing and illumination.

The Great Lost Library of England’s Kings

Monday 21 November 18.30 – 20.00 / Conference Centre / £7.50/£5 concessions
Historian Nicholas Vincent, investigates the reading habits of England’s Kings from 1066 to 1272 and how their collection of books informs much of what we know today about English historical, religious and scientific writing post 1066.

The Diamond Queen

Friday 25 November 18.30 – 20.00 / Conference Centre / £7.50/£5 concessions
Broadcaster and journalist Andrew Marr examines the Queen's pivotal role at the centre of the state and how the monarchy has modernised and made fit for purpose for the twenty-first century.

The English Kingdom of France

Monday 28 November 18.30 - 20.00 / Conference Centre / £7.50/£5 concessions
Historian and biographer Juliet Barker brings to life Henry V's victory at Agincourt and subsequent conquest of large swaths of France.

The Story of a Book

Monday 12 December 18.30 – 19.45 / Conference Centre / £7.50/£5 concessions
Historian Michael Wood unfolds the fascinating story of a single Anglo-Saxon manuscript and gives us an intimate insight into the mind of Athelstan, the first king of England and first royal bibliophile.

Royal Manuscripts Conference

Monday 12- Tuesday 13 December 2011 / Conference Centre / £50/£45 AMARC members/£25 Students
A two-day international conference on illuminated manuscripts with a special panel discussion focusing on the Talbot Shrewsbury Book. The keynote address will be given by Michael Wood.

The English Castle

Tuesday 13 December 18.30 - 20.00 / Conference Centre / £7.50/£5 concessions
Leading expert John Goodall tells the story England’s Castles and explores their use and development in a richly illustrated lecture.

The King of Beasts

Friday 16 December 18.30 – 20.00 / Conference Centre / £7.50 /£5 concessions
The relationship between animals and medieval English monarchs from the heraldic lions on the Plantagenet coat of arms to discovery of lion skulls at the Tower of London is explored by Deirdre Jackson, author of Lion (Reaktion Books, 2010).


Charles Dickens Events

The Phenomenal Charles Dickens

Friday 2 December 18.30 – 20.00 / Conference Centre / £7.50/£5 concessions
Claire Tomalin talks to leading scholar John Bowen about the complex character of Charles Dickens.

A Christmas Carol, and the Conjuror

Friday 9 December 18.30 – 20.00
Saturday 10 December 14.30 - 16.00 / Conference Centre / £7.50/£5 concessions
Writer and broadcaster, Brian Sibley evokes literary illusions from some of Dickens' best loved stories while magician David Weeks presents interludes of bewildering bafflement out of the Victorian conjuror's box of tricks.


Myths and Realities

We’ve never had it so good? Food and Diet in the UK

Wednesday 21 September 18.30-20.00 / Conference Centre / £7.50/£5 concessions
Sheila Dillon, presenter of Radio 4’s The Food Programme chairs a debate about the conflicting messages surrounding food and diet in the UK. Speakers include Dr Wendy Wills of the University of Hertfordshire.

Young People: troubled, troublesome or terrific?

Tuesday 1 November 2011 18.30-20.00 / Conference Centre / £7.50 / £5 concessions
The impact of often contradictory views of young people on policy decisions and society are explored in this timely debate.


South Asian Literature Festival

The Last Colonial. Curious stories and adventures from a vanishing world

Friday 21 October 18.30 -20.00 / Conference Centre / £7.50/£5 concessions
Renowned explorer, philanthropist and the author of Hemingway in Africa and The Man-Eater of Punanai, Christopher Ondaatje talks to Romesh Gunesekera about his travels and life growing up against the backdrop of the declining British Empire in a new collection of autobiographical stories.


Talks and Performances


Tuesday 13 September 2011 18.30 - 20.30 / Conference Centre /£5 (includes drinks reception)
The British Library Theatre Archive Project and De Montfort University present an evening of interviews and discussion with those who work behind the curtain. Celebrating the contribution and creativity of individuals unseen by the theatre-goer, this event provides a fascinating insight into life ‘backstage’.


Amanda Palmer in Person SOLD OUT

Monday 5 September 2011 / 18.30 – 20.00
A rare chance to see a solo performance from Amanda Palmer, the driving voice of The Dresden Dolls, the Emcee in Cabaret, and half of the conjoined-twin folk duo Evelyn Evelyn. Includes material from her latest record "Amanda Palmer Plays the Popular Hits of Radiohead on her Magical Ukulele".


How Translation Shapes Our Everyday Lives

Friday 9 September 2011 18.45 – 20.00 / Conference Centre / Free
David Bellos, translator, biographer and lecturer in Comparative Literature at Princeton University, will talk and take questions about his new book, Is that a Fish in Your Ear? Translation and the Meaning of Everything.



Adapt or Die: The Future of News and Newspapers in the Digital Revolution

Wednesday 14 September 2011 18.30–20.00 / Conference Centre / £7.50/£5 concessions
Lionel Barber, editor of the Financial Times, examines the on-going impact of the digital revolution upon journalists, newspapers and media organisations.


The Founding Gardeners

Monday 19 September 2011 18.30 – 20.00 / Conference Centre / £8/£5 concessions
This beautifully illustrated talk looks at the lives of the American founding fathers and how their attitude to plants, gardens, nature and agriculture shaped the American nation. Award-winning historian Andrea Wulf shows how plants, politics and personalities intertwined as never before.

Booking via +44 (0)207 839 2006, or info@BenjaminFranklinHouse.org


Raiders of the Lost Archive: Revealing Process in Film Composition

Thursday 29 September 13.00 – 14.00 / Centre for Conservation / Free, booking essential
Dr Miguel Mera, Head of Music Studies, City University, London examines the practical, collaborative and creative interactions that take place during the creation of a film score.


Czeslaw Milosz: A Centenary Celebration

Monday 3 October 19.00 – 20.30 / Conference Centre / Free
The life and work of acclaimed Polish poet and Nobel Prize winner, Czeslaw Milosz (1911-2004) is celebrated in his centenary year. Chaired by David Constantine, editor of Modern Poetry in Translation.

To book a place email info@poetinthecity.co.uk or telephone 07908 367488.


Darkmarket: Cyberthieves, Cybercops and You

Friday 7 October 18.30 -20.00 / Conference Centre / £7.50/£5 concessions
Distinguished journalist and historian Misha Glenny, author of the acclaimed McMafia, presents a compelling account of the challenges faced by law enforcement agencies in tackling online crime.


The Wootton Effect

Wednesday 16 November 18.30 – 20.00 / Terrace Restaurant / £7.50 /£5 concessions
Ann Oakley’s biography of Barbara Wootton celebrates a remarkable life. Join Ann, Tessa Blackstone, Chairman of the British Library and Margaretta Jolly in conversation to discuss the extraordinary life and achievements of an unsung heroine of twentieth century public policy and social reform.


The PEN/Pinter Prize

Monday 10 October 18.30 – 20.00 / Conference Centre / £7.50 /£5 concessions
The PEN/Pinter prize is awarded annually to a British writer of outstanding literary merit whose work encapsulates the principles of freedom and truth that Harold Pinter upheld throughout his writing career. Playwright David Hare receives this year’s award on the night.


The 2011 Panizzi Lectures

Judith Milhous of New York City University and Robert D Hume of Penn State University present their investigation of plays and their publication in 18th century London.

• Money and readers - Monday 24 October 2011 18.15 -19.30
• Playwright - Tuesday 25 October 2011 18.15 -19.30
• Publishers, Illustrations, and Tactics - Monday 31 October 2011 18.15 -19.30

Free / Conference Centre


The Josephine Hart Poetry Hour

Monday 7 November 18.30 – 20.00 / Conference Centre / £7.50/£5 concessions
Josephine Hart’s passion for poetry and commitment to having it read live electrified the evenings she hosted at the British Library. Despite her sad passing this year the Poetry Hour will continue on an occasional basis, but with no less capacity to move and inspire.


Conservation Centre Events

Caring for your Family Archive

Tuesday 27 October 2011 12:30 – 16:00 / Centre for Conservation / Free, booking essential
Many people are now gathering together photographs, documents and other memorabilia to create their own family archive. Appointments are available throughout the session for a consultation with one of our team of conservators on how best to care for your treasured items.

An Introduction to Caring for Books

Tuesday 29 November 2011 14:00 – 16:00 Centre for Conservation / Free, booking essential
Many people have their own collections of books which they wish to preserve and keep for the future. This seminar offers an introduction to the care and preservation of books.


Family Events

Autumn Half Term Family Workshops / Free
Tuesday 25 October – Thursday 27 October
11.00-12.30 and 15.00-16.30
Suitable for 6 years to adult
Harry M Weinrebe Learning Centre

Join artist Shelagh McCarthy in this creative book making workshop.
Use pictures, words or both to make your own literary masterpiece to take home.

Notes to Editors:

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E: Press-and-PR@bl.uk
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The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom and one of the world's greatest research libraries. It provides world class information services to the academic, business, research and scientific communities and offers unparalleled access to the world's largest and most comprehensive research collection. The Library's collection has developed over 250 years and exceeds 150 million separate items representing every age of written civilisation and includes books, journals, manuscripts, maps, stamps, music, patents, photographs, newspapers and sound recordings in all written and spoken languages. Up to 10 million people visit the British Library website - www.bl.uk - every year where they can view up to 4 million digitised collection items and over 40 million pages.  



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