Starting the year at the British Library: the final mysteries of magic and music makes its mark

Brian Eno courtesy Paul Stolper Gallery photography (C) Mike Abrahams


The Hogwarts Curriculum Lectures: Charms with David Halpern

Thursday 25 January, 19:00-20:15

£15 / £12 / £10, Knowledge Centre Theatre

Meet the modern-day charmers and find out how to charm without a wand. Author of Inside the Nudge Unit: How small changes can make a big difference, David Halpern reveals how the insights of behavioural economics can be used to influence the behaviours of individuals and even entire swathes of society.

The Hogwarts Curriculum Lectures: Divination with Marc Salem

Thursday 15 February, 19:00-20:15

£15 / £12 / £10, Knowledge Centre Theatre

Are mind-readers real? This lecture is a look at how we deduce, or divine, meaning from non-verbal signs with Marc Salem, a performer, mind reader and a world-renowned expert in non-verbal communication.

Twenty-First Century Magic

Tuesday 27 February 2018, 19:00-20:30

£15 / £12 / £10, Knowledge Centre Theatre

How do modern day witches, druids and pagans find their place in the modern world, adapt (or not) their beliefs and maintain their networks in a world very different from the one in which their belief systems were founded? Find out how they do so in this talk with witchcraft historian, Vivianne Crowley, contemporary paganism expert Ronald Hutton, and author and Druidry historian Philip Carr-Gomm. This event is also chaired by writer and broadcaster Anith Sethi.


Spring 2018 sees the continuation of the Season of Sound events as part of the British Library’s Save our Sounds programme. Save our Sounds has been launched by the British Library to address the threat to the nation’s sound collection by digitising those rare, unique or fragile recordings which are most at risk, as well as delivering online resources and a vibrant programme of activities across the UK, connecting people with their audio heritage. The programme is supported by a major grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The Season of Sound events programme will run until late March 2018.

Listen: 140 Years of Recorded Sound (until 13 May 2018)

Free exhibition, Entrance Hall Gallery

Step into your own listening booth to hear an eclectic mix of sounds from the archive including many rare and unpublished recordings. See a signed disc of James Joyce’s reading of Ulysses alongside a selection of playable stamps issued in Bhutan. And meet 16-year-old Alfred Taylor, whose ‘Wireless Log’ in 1922 can be compared to a modern-day vlog.

Human.  Machine.  Animal. We tell a story of sound recording and explore the importance of sound in capturing history, how radio transformed society in the 20th century and how the way we listen has changed as new technologies have emerged and old ones become obsolete.

Shirley Collins: Words and Music

Saturday 20 January, 19:00-21:00

£25 / £22 / £20, Knowledge Centre Theatre

Widely regarded as the 20th century’s most important singer of English traditional song, Shirley Collins stood at the epicentre of the folk music scene during the 1960s and 70s, building on her remarkable travels with folklorist Alan Lomax, recording local singers around the US Deep South states of Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi and Arkansas. Unable to perform for four decades, she finally released a triumphant new album, Lodestar, last year.

Come early for a screening of the new documentary The Ballad of Shirley Collins at 14.00 in the Knowledge Centre Theatre.

The Extraordinary History of Soviet Music On the Bone

Friday 9 February, 19:00-20:30

£10 / £8 / £7, Knowledge Centre Theatre

Learn about how a secret subculture of music lovers and bootleggers defied the Soviet Union censor using homemade recording machines to copy forbidden music, like jazz, rock ‘n’ roll and banned Russian music, onto x-rays.

Stephen Coates and photographer Paul Heartfield of the X-Ray Audio Project tell this astonishing story through words, images, and film followed with a demonstration of the incredible art of cutting music to an x-ray using a 1950s recording lathe.

The Turntable Revolution

Thursday 22 Feb 2018, 19:30-21:00

£10 / £8/ £7, Knowledge Centre Theatre

Colleen Murphy tracks the groovy story of the evolution of the record player, from Edison’s phonograph and Berliner’s Gramophone through to the portable Dansette and the weird and wonderful world audiophile high-end turntables.

As a younger generation becomes enchanted with the vinyl record and as older record buyers who had chucked away their CDs now repurchase their favourite albums, it seems ‘vinyl’ is the world on every music fan’s lips.

Dudley-Jeczalik-Langan reboot Art of Noise’s In Visible Silence

Friday 09 March, 19:30-23:00

£30 / £25 / £20 Entrance Hall

See Art of Noises’s million-selling In Visible Silence performed live in London for the first time in 30 years. Released in 1986, the album spawned hits like Peter Gunn with Duane Eddy, Paranoimia with Max Headroom and Legs.

This is a standing event.

Brian Eno: Music for Installations

Friday 23 March, 19:30-23:00

£20 / £18 / £16, Entrance Hall

Hear Brian Eno in conversation and experience music created to accompany his visual art installations, in a unique setting. His many installations are the fertile ground from which so much of his other work has grown. At this special event Eno showcases and talks about a selection of music from some of these installations that have been heard in galleries, airports, hospitals and public spaces.


Rana Mitter: China in 2018

Monday 29 January, 19:00-20:15

£10 / £8 / £7, Knowledge Centre Theatre

Historian of China Rana Mitter gives a keynote lecture considering ‘China in 2018’, exploring contemporary Chinese art and literature, technology, and the 2018 Chinese world-view. Director of the Oxford University China Centre, Mitter is the author of several books.

Chinese Tales and Ribbon Dance

Tuesday 18 February, 11:00-12:30

Free / Drop in (places allocated on a first come, first served basis), Harry M Weinrebe Learning Centre

Celebrate Chinese New Year at this fun family workshop. Join artist and performer Jih Wen Yeh as she weaves fascinating stories and performs a beautiful ribbon dance. Then take part in a ribbon dance workshop for all the family.

Bones to Bytes: Curating the Chinese Collections at the Library

Monday 19 February, 13:00-14:00

Free, Knowledge Centre Theatre

Sara Chiesura, Leader Curator of East Asian Collections, introduces items from the Library’s Chinese collection and discusses how they are stored, shared and preserved for future generations using the newest digital technologies. The material has been acquired since the Department of Printed Books in the British Museum was founded in 1753, the year of the founding of the Museum itself. Nowadays the Library continues to acquire both rare books and contemporary publications on topics such as the humanities and social sciences from the People’s Republic of China.


Rachel Hewitt: A Revolution of Feeling

Friday 26 January 2018, 19:15-20:15

£8 / £6 / £5, Knowledge Centre Theatre

Rachel Hewitt tells the story of the 1790s reformers who tried to transform attitudes to passions and desires, and how female radicals found themselves contesting with tired, constraining ideas about gender and emotion. How successful were they in their fight to reform marriage, divorce, suffrage and education?

Peter Stamm: Switzerland’s Greatest Living Writer

Thursday 8 February, 19:15-20:30

£8 / £6 / £5, Knowledge Centre Theatre

Get inside the head of Switzerland’s greatest living writer as he speaks to Rosie Goldsmith about his forensic, psychologising style and how his works have had such a broad appeal, both at home and abroad.

Japan Now

Sunday 25 February, 11:00 – 17:15

£20 / £16 / £14, Knowledge Centre Theatre

Join the Library for an eclectic mix of talks and events across books, film and visual art exploring the question and what is Japan thinking now? Looking beyond the clichés to reveal the real Japan, the talk will feature local writers and, international commentators in exciting conversations across art forms.

Boring Talks

Wednesday 28 February, 19:00-20:30

£12 / £10 / £8, Knowledge Centre Theatre

The world is full of events and conferences that promise to change your life. Boring Talks won’t do that. It’s an evening celebrating the mundane, the ordinary, the obvious and the overlooked; subjects often considered trivial and pointless, but when examined more closely reveal themselves to be deeply fascinating.

The theme for the Boring Talks Events (following the first sell-out event in November 2017) is ‘Boring Lives’, focusing on our daily routines: the food we eat, the journeys we make, the place we work, the words we use. Nothing of any importance will be discussed.

Olga Tokarczuk: An Evening with Poland’s Best

Thursday 22 March, 19:00-20:15

£8 / £6 / £5, Knowledge Centre Theatre

Discover why the polish household name, Olga Tokarczuk, is one of the most critically-acclaimed and commercially successful Polish writers of her generation as she speaks to Adam Mars-jones about her career, writing and latest translated work, Flights.

The British Library’s full programme of events can be found on our What’s On website.


Unless stated otherwise, media content on the press area of our website, including images, is protected by third-party rights such as copyright or trademarks. The British Library is permitted to make the content available to you for promoting associated British Library’s exhibitions, events or activities. If you are not using images to promote a British Library activity, you must clear all rights for your use of any in-copyright material beyond uses permitted under the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988.

  • Dimensions:
  • File size:

For more information:

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

Press Office contacts

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 - - every year where they can view up to 4 million digitised collection items and over 40 million pages.