LISTINGS RELEASE: The British Library promises Bollywood, hypnosis and the Beats with its vibrant autumn programme of public events and exhibitions

  • Events listings for September to November

EXHIBITION: Mughal India: Art, Culture and Empire
9 November 2012 - 2 April 2012, Paccar Gallery, The British Library
Price: £9 / £7 and £5 concessions / Free for under 18's

This autumn the British Library will explore one of the most powerful and splendid of all the world’s great dynasties with Mughal India: Art, Culture and Empire, from 9 November 2012 to 2 April 2013. The exhibition, launching during Asian Art in London week, will be the first to document the entire historical period, from the 16th to the 19th century, through more than 200 exquisite manuscripts and the finest paintings drawn almost exclusively from the British Library’s extensive heritage collection.

Mughal India events

Exploring India: The Story of a Nation
Mon 5 Nov 2012, 18.30 - 19.45, The British Library
Price: £7.50 / £5 concessions

For non-Indians, the challenge of writing about India is often fraught with the prospect of a critical reception. Yet such writing arguably offers a fresh perspective and new insights. Is India uniquely difficult to write about when you are perceived as an outsider? The event will highlight the intricate challenges in reporting as explorers, with a discussion by a panel of highly regarded speakers: Michael Wood, Patrick French, Roy Moxham, Alex von Tunzelmann and Salil Tripathi (moderator).

Presented in association with the South Asian Literature Festival.

Late at the Library: Mughal Nites
Fri 9 Nov 2012, 19.30 - 22.00, The British Library
Price: £7.50 / £5 concessions

Enjoy an extraordinary night of music, performance and spectacle inspired by a party at a Mughal palace. Join DJ Ritu and guests who will be hosting a Kuch Kuch party with British Library Artist in Residence Christopher Green, mehndi artists from Ash Kumar, performance by outdoor specialist Nutkhut, installations, demonstrations and lots more. A bar and Indian street food will also be available.

Presented in association with the South Asian Literature Festival.

Makings of an Empire: The Mark of the Mughals on South Asia

Fri 9 Nov 2012, 18.30 - 20.00, The British Library

Price: £7.50 / £5 concessions

Among the most striking examples of Mughal heritage are the many beautiful buildings that were constructed in the Mughal style, where the merging of Persian and Indian cultures created some of the world's best-known monuments. This combination of influences can also be seen in the arts, cuisine, fashion and language, as well in thought, politics, warfare, religious attitudes and lifestyle. Join an esteemed panel of speakers to discuss the large and prominent mark left by the Mughals on the subcontinent.

The Last Mughal in Words and Music
Fri 16 Nov 2012, 18.30 - 22.00, The British Library
Price: £7.50 / £5 concessions

Celebrated author William Dalrymple reads from his award-winning book, The Last Mughal: The Fall of a Dynasty, Delhi, 1857, accompanied by North Indian vocalist Vidya Shah. This evocative evening celebrates the bygone era of India's last Mughals, bringing to life a world of emperors, poets, courtesans, politics, bayonets, intrigue and love through word, poetry and music.

From the Ruins of Empire
Mon 26 Nov 2012, 18.30 - 20.00, The British Library
Price: £7.50 / £5 concessions

The Victorian period, often viewed in the West as a time of self-confident progress, was experienced by many Asians as a catastrophe. As the British gunned down the last heirs to the Mughal Empire, burned down the Summer Palace in Beijing, or humiliated the bankrupt rulers of the Ottoman Empire, it was clear that for Asia to recover, a vast intellectual effort would be required. Michael Wood, broadcaster and historian, and Pankaj Mishra, author of the successful book, Temptations of the West, explores the historical fallout of the end of the Qing, Ottoman and Mughal Empires.

EXHIBITION: On the Road: Jack Kerouac’s Manuscript Scroll
4 October - 27 December 2012, Folio Society Gallery, The British Library
Price: FREE

The British Library is delighted to be the first London venue to display Jack Kerouac’s 120-foot long manuscript of On the Road, from 4 October to 27 December 2012. Written over a period of three weeks in April 1951 in manic bursts of what Allen Ginsberg referred to as ‘spontaneous bop prosody’, Kerouac typed the manuscript on rolls of architects tracing paper, which he taped together into a long scroll to avoid replacing paper at the end of the page and interrupting his creative flow. The scroll will be accompanied by literature and sound recordings from the Beat era from the Library’s outstanding American collections.

On the Road events

On the Road - film preview
Wed 10 Oct 2012, 18.30 - 21.00, The British Library
Price: £7.50 / £5 concessions

The British Library hosts a special preview of On the Road, Walter Salles's long-awaited adaptation of Jack Kerouac's great American novel. After the death of his father, writer Sal Paradise (Sam Riley) meets Dean Moriarty (Garrett Hedlund), a young and seductive ex-con. Determined not to get trapped in a narrow life, the two friends hit the road. Thirsting for freedom, they discover the world, others and themselves.

1951: The Great Year of My Enlightenment
Fri 12 Oct 2012, 18.30 - 20.00, The British Library
Price: £7.50 / £5 concessions

By the early summer of 1951, Jack Kerouac had finally completed a first draft of On the Road. Using pioneering archive research, Beat scholar Howard Cunnell, editor of On the Road: The Original Scroll, explores what happened during the rest of what Kerouac would later call 'the great year of my enlightenment.'

EXHIBITION: Last chance to see Writing Britain: Wastelands to Wonderlands
Until 25 September, Paccar Gallery, The British Library
Price: £9 / £7 and £5 concessions / Free for under 18's

With just two weeks left, it is the last chance to see the ‘blockbuster show of British literature’ (Night Waves, Radio 3), Writing Britain, running until 25 September.

Featuring literary jewels such as the manuscripts for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, The Beatles’ ‘In My Life’ and Rebecca, as well as JRR Tolkein’s original artwork for The Hobbit, the exhibition explores the relationship between British landscapes and iconic literature.

Black History Month events

Black Beats: Amiri Baraka in Conversation
Sun 7 Oct 2012, 14.30 - 16.30, The British Library
Price: £7.50 / £5 concessions

Before the Beats there was Jazz poetry. Experience an unmissable visit by the world-renowned poet Amiri Baraka (formerly LeRoi Jones), a leading figure of the evolution of the spoken word genre, who has influenced politics, artistic practice and cultural change on an international scale. During this event, Baraka will be offering readings and performance from the rich collection of his work.

Readers Research: Black in Renaissance Britain
Fri 19 Oct 2012, 18.30 - 20.00, The British Library
Price: £4 / £3 concessions

Two British Library readers present their findings and talk about the role of our collections in their research. Miranda Kaufmann reveals how the Library manuscript collection led to her discovery of 135 Africans spending a week outside Bristol in 1590. Michael Ohajuru made use of the Library to gain an insight into the making, location and viewing of a roodscreen featuring a black magia found in early 16th century Devon. They are in conversation with Dr Caroline Bressey, director of the UCL Equiano Centre

Literary events

Elizabeth Hay: Alone in the Classroom
Wed 12 Sep 2012, 12.30 - 14.00, The British Library
Price: Free, booking essential

To book, please email

Elizabeth Hay is a Canadian author who was awarded the Scotiabank Giller Prize in 2007 for Late nights on Air. She talks about her new book, Alone in the Classroom.

Simon Armitage: Walking Home
Fri 14 Sep 2012, 18.30 - 20.00, The British Library
Price: £7.50 / £5 concessions

Simon Armitage’s travelogue Walking Home combines prose and poetry as the writer recounts his epic walk along the Pennine Way. Armitage gave poetry readings in village halls, churches, pubs and living rooms as he attempted to walk from the Scottish Borders back to his own doorstep. It's a story about Britain's remote and overlooked interior - the wildness of its landscape and the generosity of the locals who sustained him on his journey.

David Crystal: A Time and a Place: Where English Came To Be
Tue 18 Sep 2012, 18.30 - 20.00, The British Library
Price: £7.50 / £5 concessions

For a forthcoming book, Wordsmiths and Warriors, David and Hilary Crystal have been visiting the places in Britain where significant events influenced the shape and study of the English language. This talk presents some of their first encounters. David Crystal is one of the world's leading experts on the history and development of the English language.

The Hobbit at 75
Fri 21 Sep 2012, 18.30 - 20.00, The British Library
Price: £7.50 / £5 concessions

J.R.R Tolkien first introduced the vast mythological world Middle Earth in his classic tale for all ages, The Hobbit, published on this very day in 1937. Join a celebration of this fabulous and hugely influential book, with readings, conversation and special guests. The event also marks the run up to the release of part one of Peter Jackson’s filmed version of the tale.

Chasing Venus: The Race to Measure the Heavens
Mon 24 Sep 2012, 18.30-20.00, The British Library
Price: £8 / £5 concessions

To book please call +44 (0)207 839 2006 or email

Discussing her new book, award-winning author Andrea Wulf will tell the extraordinary story of the first global scientific collaboration set amid warring armies, hurricanes and personal tragedy.

A Historian Turned Detective
Fri 28 Sep 2012, 12.30 - 14.00, The British Library
Price: Free, booking essential

To book, please email

Sheila Rowbotham is one of the British Library Writers in Residence, and author of Women, Resistance and Revolution and Edward Carpenter: A Life of Liberty and Love. She describes her current research, following the trail of a group of late 19th-century rebels from Bristol across the Atlantic.

The PEN Pinter Prize
Mon 8 Oct 2012, 18.30 - 20.00, The British Library
Price: £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. At the event, this year's prize will be presented to Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, who will read a selection of her work, including several new poems. She will also announce the international writer of courage who shares the award. A limited edition booklet will be published by Faber and Faber and will be available to the audience.

Rethinking the Vietnam War
Mon 8 Oct 2012, 18.45 - 20.00
Price: £4 / £3 concessions, The British Library

Drawing on his recent book Rethinking the Vietnam War, Professor John Dumbrell will consider a series of contested interpretations of this war, including the role of the antiwar movement, turning points in the history of war, debates over military strategy, and the effect of war on subsequent history.

The John Lennon Letters
Thu 11 Oct 2012, 18.30 - 20.00, The British Library
Price: £7.50 / £5 concessions

John Lennon wrote letters and postcards all of his life, and now a selection of these letters is being published for the first time. These letters were funny, informative, campaigning, wise, mad, poetic, anguished and sometimes heartbreaking. Hunter Davies, the authorised biographer of the Beatles and editor of the collection, talks about the John Lennon he knew and the unique insight that the letters give into the mind of one of the great figures of our times.

America, Hitler and the UN
Mon 15 Oct 2012, 18.45 - 20.00, The British Library
Price: £4 / £3 concessions

Dr Dan Plesch will discuss his controversial book, America, Hitler and the UN, in which he argues that the ideas and institutions of the UN at war made a great contribution to the victory and provide lessons of the importance of the modern UN that we ignore at our peril.

Discovering the 'Other America': How I Learned American History
Mon 22 Oct 2012, 18.45 - 20.00, The British Library
Price: £4 / £3 concessions

Feminist historian and Eccles British Library Writer in Residence Sheila Rowbotham describes the cultural and political influences which led to her interest in the ‘other America’ of labour and women’s history. Her personal journey touches on the social movements of the last 50 years, showing how the connections she has pursued in the past have been present in modern times.

Presented by the Eccles Centre for American Studies at the British Library.

Arts and music events

A Resounding Place
: listening to nature and industry
Mon 24 Sep 2012, 13.00 - 14.00, The British Library
Price: Free, booking essential

Mark Peter Wright is an artist whose work seeks to illuminate understandings of listening and place. His publications, broadcasts and installations often focus upon areas that have encountered both industrial and ecological forms of migration and abandonment.

The Singing Hypnotist
Thu 29 Nov 2012, 19.30 - 21.00, The British Library
Price: Free, booking essential

An entertaining evening of music and mesmerism with performer, writer and cabaret star Christopher Green, the British Library's Artist in Residence 2012. Through the course of his residency, Green has been investigating stage hypnotism and hypnotherapy in the Library's collections as background research for this brand new show. Live hypnosis will be performed at this event on willing volunteers from the audience.

Politics, social and current affairs events

US Elections: One Month to Go
Mon 24 Sep 2012, 12.30 - 14.00, The British Library
Price: Free, booking essential

To book, please email
Supported by the Eccles Centre for American Studies at the British Library.

Bruce Stokes, director of Global Economic Attitudes, at the Pew Research Center, will discuss the latest US public opinion survey results a month before the American elections. He will go beyond the head-to-head polling numbers in the presidential race, shedding light on who is likely to vote for each candidate, the likely outcome in Congressional election.

Social Change and the Sporting Mega-event
Mon 5 Nov 2012, 10.00 - 17.30, The British Library
Price: £25

How do sporting mega events reshape and redefine society? And to what end? Join scholars, policy makers and the private sector for a one-day conference focused on the 2012 London Olympics and the upcoming 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic and Paralympic games in Brazil.

Notes to Editors

Further information about British Library events can be found at

To book tickets for the events please visit, call 01937 546546 (Mon - Fri, 09.00 - 17.00) or buy tickets in person at the British Library unless stated otherwise.

Visitor information:
Telephone: +44 (0)1937 546060

Customer Services:
Telephone: +44 (0)1937 546060

Box Office:
Telephone: +44 (0)1937 546546

For more information:

Evenings and weekends:
+44 (0) 20 7412 7150

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