Event highlights for spring 2018 at the British Library

(C) British Library Board
  • The British Library will celebrate its first Food Season with a series of events based on the Library’s collections and all things food
  • Accompanying the Library’s next major exhibition, James Cook: The Voyages, a programme of discussions, lectures and film screenings will explore the contemporary significance and legacy of the voyages
  • With the Library’s free Entrance Hall Gallery exhibition, Windrush: Songs in a Strange Land, will come a Caribbean Comedy Week and a performance of gospel music in the Piazza Pavilion for Make Music day
  • Margaret Atwood will be visiting the Library as the headline speaker for “Under Her Eye: Women and Climate Change”
  • The annual Jaipur Literature Festival, commemorating South Asia’s literary heritage, will return to the British Library
  • A Treasures Gallery display and events mark the bicentenary of Karl Marx’s birth

Spring sees a plethora of events connected to the British Library’s new major exhibition James Cook: The Voyages and new Entrance Hall Gallery exhibition, Windrush: Songs in a Strange Land. Other events complement occasions such as 200 years since Karl Marx’s birth (joining a Treasures Gallery display) and the 200th anniversary of the first edition of Frankenstein, as well as the Jaipur Literature Festival, and the continuation of the Library’s European Literature talks and Boring Talks.

Events include the likes of lectures on the legacies and controversies of James Cook with Dame Anne Salmond, a Caribbean Comedy Week showcasing comedic talents from a spectrum of the UK’s Caribbean community, an international conference on climate change and the arts with headline speaker Margaret Atwood, and Nina Power, Martin Rowson and Mark Steel taking an irreverent look at The Communist Manifesto.

All events, further information and full listings are available through the British Library’s website. Tickets are on sale to Members from 1 March and on general sale from 8 March.

Event highlights include:

James Cook: The Voyages

Nicholas Thomas: The Voyages of James Cook

Thursday 3 May, 19.00-20.30

£12 / £10 / £8, Knowledge Centre Theatre (keynote lecture)

Captain James Cook was one of the greatest sea explorers of all time. In this keynote lecture, Professor Nicholas Thomas, Director of the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of Cambridge, reimagines Cook's journeys to describe what he and his associates experienced and what the societies he encountered experienced when their divergent worlds came together.

James Cook: Travelling Worlds

Tuesday 12 June 19.00-20.30

£12 / £10 / £8, Knowledge Centre Theatre (keynote lecture)

In a keynote lecture, Anne Salmond, author of The Trial of the Cannibal Dog and Aphrodite’s Island, examines the differences between the wooden world of Endeavour and the Pacific Islands James Cook visited, discusses some of the artefacts collected during the voyage, and contrasts our contemporary world with the world of Cook, Joseph Banks and their companions.

James Cook: Legacies and Controversies

Friday 15 June, 19.15-20.30

£12 / £10 / £8, Piazza Pavilion (panel discussion)

In August 2017, a statue of James Cook in Sydney’s Hyde Park was defaced amid demands that its inscription should be changed, prompting intense debate about celebration and dispossession. Why is Cook such a controversial figure? Anne Salmond and Ahilapalapa Rands discuss Cook’s social, environmental and cultural legacy. Chaired by Nicholas Thomas.

Windrush: Songs in a Strange Land

Caribbean Comedy Week

Monday 18-Friday 22 June, 19.00-21.00

£15 / £12 / £10, Piazza Pavilion (performance)

Join us as we showcase and celebrate the best comedic talents of established, and emerging artists, from the UK’s Caribbean community in this week-long mini-festival. Our exciting line-up includes appearances from Annette Fagan, Dane Baptist, Slim and Glenda Jaxon. Our comedy fest is hosted by the cool, charming and conscious, Mr Cee. Equally skilled at hosting and as a stand-up comedian, Mr Cee has performed at various venues from The Hackney Empire and The Comedy Store to Jongleurs and Highlight.

Windrush Women Past and Present

Monday 25 June 2018, 19.00-20.30

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

Seventy years ago 492 Caribbean passengers travelled to Britain on the HMS Windrush. The overriding myth of this historic journey is of young Jamaican men travelling to the ‘motherland’, with the promise of jobs awaiting them on their arrival. Yet 257 passengers were women, and 188 of them were travelling alone, and not everyone was from Jamaica – they came from all over the Caribbean. There are many stories missing from the Windrush narrative. Not least those of bold and pioneering women, leaving everything behind, journeying to a cold and unwelcoming country to better their own – and their family’s lives.

Literature at the Library

Carlo Rovelli: The Order of Time

Wednesday 25 April, 19.00-20.30

£21 / £19.50 / £18 (with book), £15 / £12 / £10 (ticket only), Knowledge Centre Theatre

Discover the latest work by theoretical physicist Carlo Rovelli, whose Seven Brief Lessons on Physics became one of the fastest-selling science book ever. In this latest work, Rovelli explores the problem that has driven a lifetime of research: what is time?

Madeline Miller in Conversation with Kate Mosse

Monday 30 April, 19.00-20.30

£12 / £10 / £8, Knowledge Centre Theatre (in conversation)

On a rare visit from the US, Madeline Miller, author of the 2012 Orange Prize-winning best-selling novel The Song of Achilles, comes to the British Library to celebrate the UK publication of her new novel Circe, the powerful story of the mythological witch Circe, inspired by Homer’s Odyssey. Madeline Miller will be in conversation with Kate Mosse, co-founder of the Women’s Prize for Fiction, formerly the Orange Prize, and the author of The Burning Chambers.

The Taste of Honey at 60

Friday 25 May, 19.00-20.30

£15 / £12 / £10, Knowledge Centre Theatre (talks and discussions)

A Taste of Honey, written by the 19-year-old Shelagh Delaney, was first performed in May 1958 at the Theatre Royal Stratford East, directed by Joan Littlewood. On the eve of its sixtieth anniversary join us for a celebration of this remarkable production in conversation, readings and music. Special guests include original cast members Murray Melvin and Joan Plowright, Shelagh’s daughter Charlotte Delaney and the academic and Delaney biographer, Selina Todd.

The W G Sebald Lecture 2018: Arundhati Roy

Tuesday 5 June, 19.00-20.30

£15 / £12 / £10, Knowledge Centre Theatre (talks and discussions)

Arundhati Roy is best known for her novel The God of Small Things, which won the Booker Prize in 1997 and has been translated into more than 40 languages. Since then she has especially devoted her time to social and environmental activism and works of non-fiction including The Algebra of Infinite Justice, Listening to Grasshoppers and Broken Republic.  Her second novel, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction in 2017 and described by the judges as “a rich and vital book” that has “remarkable scale” and “extraordinary style and intelligence”.

Jaipur Literature Festival

Saturday 9 – Sunday 10 June

£30 / £27 / £25 (Weekend pass) £20 / £16 / £14 (Saturday/Sunday pass), various venues around the British Library

The ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival returns to the British Library for the second time, and its fifth London edition, as a two-day taster of ‘the greatest literary show on Earth’, the extraordinary free festival which takes place in the Pink City of Jaipur, India, every January. Directed by writers Namita Gokhale and William Dalrymple, it was founded in 2006, and attracts some of the world’s leading authors, thinkers and performers, and huge crowds. A packed programme of talks, dialogues and performances animate four venues at the Library, celebrating South Asia’s literary heritage, oral and performing arts, books and ideas.

Karl and Eleanor Marx Treasures Gallery display

The Communist Manifesto: Martin Rowson, Nina Power and Mark Steel

Friday 4 May, 19.00-20.30

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

Comedian and broadcaster Mark Steel and political philosopher Nina Power join The Guardian cartoonist Martin Rowson, creator of a new graphic novel version of the seminary text, The Communist Manifesto, that forms the backdrop to the event.

Eleanor and Karl Marx in London: Rachel Holmes and Gareth Stedman-Jones

Wednesday 16 May, 19.00-20.30

£12 / £10 / £8, Knowledge Centre Theatre (talks and discussions)

Karl Marx and his youngest daughter Eleanor were both leading figures on London’s intellectual and activist scenes in the nineteenth century. Marx and his family arrived in England as refugees in 1849. London became his permanent home for the rest of his life, from where he produced his most iconic writings and began to build the political movement of international socialism. 

Other spring event highlights

Late at the Library: Superjam – 50 Years of Radical Words featuring The Last Poets

Friday 18 May, 19.30-23.00

£10 / £8 / £7, Entrance Hall (standing event)

An extraordinary night of performance poetry and music to celebrate 50 years of US pioneers The Last Poets, featuring special guests from the worlds of poetry and music

Under Her Eye: Women and Climate Change

Friday 1 June, 9.00-18.00

£45 / £37.50 / £30, Knowledge Centre and Piazza Pavilion

Booker-prize winning author Margaret Atwood is the headline speaker and ambassador of this international Summit and Art Festival that will explore and celebrate the role of women taking action on climate change, as part of the 2018 Suffrage Centenary. A key area of focus is climate’s link to health, wellbeing and social justice – all tied together by the role the arts can play in influencing thinking and sparking debate.

Boring Talks

Tuesday 26 June, 19.00-20.30

£12 / £10 / £8, Knowledge Centre Theatre (lecture)

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.


Launching the first ever British Library Food Season

Launching spring 2018 is the British Library’s Food Season, which will include events ranging from tastings and talks to presentations and panels aiming to explore food as a lens through which we see the world.

Featuring award-winning food writers, Michelin-starred chefs, seasoned food campaigners and expert food makers, all appetites will be catered for in this vibrant and engaging series. The season will welcome a menu of food industry extraordinaires, including Jack Monroe, Ruby Tandoh, Francisco Migoya, Samin Nosrat, Jenny Linford, and numerous others.

British Library curator and food historian Polly Russell said:

“Whether it is handwritten manuscripts of printed cookery books, letters and diaries revealing the intimate details of eating habits, historical patents of cooking technology or in-depth oral histories of food producers, food is present in the British Library’s collections. This year’s Food Season provides visitors a wonderful opportunity to discover some of these unique collections and join in a lively conversation about food past, present and future.”

Food Season event highlights include:

Cooking on a Bootstrap: Jack Monroe in Conversation

Monday 9 April, 19.00-21.00

£12 / £10 / £8, Knowledge Centre Theatre (in conversation)

Is it really possible to cook cheaply and responsibly? Food writer, journalist and activist Jack Monroe knows first-hand what it's like to live in food poverty. Join Jack in conversation with investigative food journalist and food poverty campaigner Joanna Blythman as they explore questions of food and social responsibility today.

Victoria’s Kitchen with Annie Gray, Ashley Palmer-Watts and Marcus Wareing

Friday 20 April, 19.00-20.30

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

Annie Gray, author of The Greedy Queen: Eating with Victoria, sheds light on the real history of Victoria’s notorious appetite and how it was fed. She is joined by Anthony Palmer-Watts of Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck, who has worked extensively with original Victorian recipes, and Marcus Wareing of The Gilbert Scott, who works in Victorian Grade 1-listed building: the spectacular St Pancras Renaissance Hotel just next door to the British Library.

Ingredients: Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat with Samin Nosrat

Tuesday 24 April, 19.00-20.30

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

While cooking at Chez Panisse at the start of her career, Samin Nosrat noticed that amid the chaos of the kitchen there were four key principles that her fellow chefs would always fall back on to make their food better: Salt, Fat, Acid and Heat. By mastering these four variables, Samin found the confidence to trust her instincts in the kitchen and cook delicious meals with any ingredients. Samin will be in conversation with chef Jeremy Lee and Evening Standard restaurant critic Fay Maschler.

Francisco Migoya: Modernist Bread

Friday 4 May, 19.00-20.30

£12 / £10 / £8, Piazza Pavilion

In a rare UK appearance, Francisco Migoya, head chef of Modernist Cuisine (Bellevue, WA) and co-author of Modernist Bread: The Art and Science presents a revolutionary new understanding of one of the most important staples of human diet in this talk.

A Book and a Bottle Salon with Amy Bloom

Friday 25 May, 19:30-21.30

£30 / £29 / £28, Piazza Pavilion

Join Amy Bloom and Damian Barr as they attempt to find the perfect bottle to match Amy Bloom's new book White Houses, filled with back-room politics, secrets, scandals and love.


Thursday 31 May, 19.00-20.30

£12 / £10 / £8, Knowledge Centre Theatre (panel discussion)

Save your appetites for this exploration of what it means to be hungry, and why we eat the things we do with our panel, including, professional chef, blogger and food myth-buster Anthony Warner, and Laura Freeman, author of The Reading Cure. This event will be chaired by BBC's Food Programme presenter Sheila Dillon.

At The Crossroads: Microclimate Sensory Banquet

Saturday 2 June, 19.30-21.00

£10 / £8 / £7, Knowledge Centre Theatre (banquet)

Taste locally produced food, explore sensory rituals and enjoy a range of creative activities in a Banquet hosted by artist Gayle Chong Kwan, in partnership with the Skip Garden. Inspired by the artist’s research into the politics of food at the British Library, and the historic role played by the site of Kings Cross in UK consumption habits, this very special event invites audiences to consider their environment through the lens of food.


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