Diaries: Lives and Times

Diaries: lives and times

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Explore some of the most intriguing diaries of the last 100 years

Whether by politicians, heads of state, novelists, playwrights and celebrities or ‘ordinary people’, personal diaries can give remarkable insights in to the lives and times of the people who kept them. The British Library Diaries season opens with an exploration of some of the most intriguing journals of the last 100 years. Our panel also share some of their own diary extracts.

Following an introduction by British Library curator Joanna Norledge, host Travis Elborough is joined by Dickon Edwards, Simon Garfield, Virginia Ironside and Anita Sethi.

This event will have live speech-to-text interpretation.

Dickon Edwards is, in his own words, a “writer, dysfunctional dandy, flâneur, lyricist, DJ, dilettante, boulevardier, valetudinarian, imbiber” and a founding member of bands Orlando and Fosca. He has kept a continuous online diary, The Diary at the Centre of the Earth since 1997, which is thought to be the world’s longest running of its type.

Simon Garfield is the author of more than a dozen books of non-fiction, including the bestsellers Just My Type, On The Map and To The Letter, was one of the inspirations for the theatre shows Letters Live.  He is a trustee of the Mass Observation archive at the University of Sussex and is the editor of several books of diaries from the archive: A Notable Woman The Romantic Journals of Jean Lucey Pratt, We Are At War: The Diaries of Five Ordinary People in Extraordinary Times and Our Hidden Lives: The Remarkable Diaries of Post War Britain. His most recent book is In Miniature: How Small Things Illuminate the World.

Travis Elborough is a writer, author and cultural commentator whose many books include Letters to Change The World (2018) Bus Fare: Collected writings on Londons most loved means of transport (2018),Our History of the 20th Century: As Told in Diaries, Journals and Letters (2017) The Atlas of Improbable Places (2017) A Walk in the Park: The Life and Times of a People’s Institution (2016) and A London Year: 365 Days of City Life in Diaries, Journals and Letters (2015).He is a regular contributor to the Observer and the Guardian and others and frequently appears on BBC Radio 4 and Five Live.

Virginia Ironside is one of Britain’s best known agony aunts, a columnist and an author. After being a rock columnist in the sixties, she has been an agony aunt for forty years and has written 20 books, the latest being Yes! I Can Manage Thank you! She writes a column, Dilemmas, for The Independent and a monthly column for The Oldie and recently has been doing a granny stand-up show which she takes round the country, Growing Old Disgracefully.

Anita Sethi is a journalist and writer who has written for The Guardian, The Observer, The Sunday Times, The Independent, the New Statesman, Granta, and The Times Literary Supplement. She is a contributor to the anthologies We Mark Your Memory (2018), Seaside Special: Postcards From The Edge (2018) and forthcoming collections Women on Nature edited by Katharine Norbury (published 2019) and Common People edited by Kit de Waal (published Spring 2019).

Image: Page from Kenneth Williams' diary from 21 August 1950, courtesy of the Kenneth Williams Estate


Name: Diaries: Lives and Times
Where: Knowledge Centre
The British Library
96 Euston Road
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When: -
Price: Full Price: £12.00
Senior 60+: £10.00
Student: £8.00
Registered Unemployed: £8.00
Under 18: £8.00
Member Ticket: £12.00
Enquiries: +44 (0)1937 546546