Victorian diaries in our Biography Collection

Our special Biography Collection at Kensington Central Library is home to many different kinds of biographical book, and that includes a large number of diaries.  These provide a very special kind of insight into a people’s lives.

Some diaries have become vital parts of the world’s heritage and have been read by millions, like those of Anne Frank and Samuel Pepys.  Some are the private jottings of ordinary people, whose experience of key moments in history have made them invaluable witnesses.  Others, kept by the famous, may have been written with at least one eye on posterity, or may have been intended to be private, and now afford a glimpse behind the public mask.

Diaries can mix records of hugely significant events and musings on enormous philosophical questions with the minutiae of everyday life – so the Pre-Rapahelite artists documented by William Michael Rossetti debate the meaning of art one minute and complain about faulty stovepipes, sore throats and toothache the next (many diaries reveal the chronic discomfort of life in earlier periods), and George Bernard Shaw meticulously records the prices of the train tickets, newspapers and ginger beer he purchased on the way to lecture engagements at which he speculated about the future of humanity.

This year’s Cityread London showcased the fictional London diary of a young Muslim woman in Sofia Khan is not Obliged by Ayisha Malik.  We wanted to plan an event to link our Biography Collection to this, and were also mindful of the fact that it was the bicentenary of Queen Victoria’s birth, down the road at Kensington Palace, on 24 May.  The idea of having a look at some of the diaries in our collection that were kept by diverse London residents and visitors during Victoria’s reign gave me a great opportunity to dip into some wonderful examples of one of my favourite kinds of biography, eventually selecting thirteen different voices to try to give some snapshots of London life between 1837 and 1901.

Given that most diaries in this period – and certainly most of those published – were kept by the well-to-do, it was a challenge to find the voices of those in more humble circumstances, but the diary of Hannah Cullwick gives a unique insight into the life of a domestic servant, and the struggles of the destitute were shockingly recorded by minister’s daughter Helen G. McKenny as she made philanthropic visits in the Old Street area.

I was fascinated to read about Keshub Chandra Sen’s visit to London to promote links between British and Indian social reformers, and to discover that Leo Tolstoy’s visit to a school in Chelsea as part of research into setting up schools for the peasant children on his Russian estate, left a legacy of 24 individual school boys’ accounts of a single day in 1861, on which they studied, played, fought, had boating accidents and acted as fences for stolen goods, amongst other things.

Local Kensington detail gave Marion Sambourne’s diaries an especial charm, and the fact that Malik’s Cityread book continues the genre of the humorous fictional diary which has given us Adrian Mole and Bridget Jones, allowed me to look at a Victorian fictional diary – Happy Thoughts by F. C. Burnand – which graced the pages of Punch 20 years before its more famous successor The Diary of a Nobody, (which Burnand edited), and which is still laugh-out-loud funny over 140 years later.  Of course, Queen Victoria herself was a prolific diarist, and extracts from her own writings revealed a remarkable juxtaposition of the stately and the intimately domestic.

The bulk of our Biography Collection dates from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries (although of course it comes right up to date with some very recent publications, and our oldest book dates from the early seventeenth century), so this was also a good opportunity to look at some of the physical aspects of our Victorian books.  The late Victorians loved the glamorous glitz of gilding on their bindings, and many biographies of this period sport beautifully detailed medallion portraits of their subjects.

It’s always very evocative to look at the handwritten inscriptions, personal bookplates, school prize labels and typically ornate library stamps of this period – in the spine of one book I found part of a Victorian newspaper advert, and the wonders of the Internet allowed me to reconstruct the full text.

This unique collection contains a treasure trove of insights and knowledge, not only in the content of the books, but also in their physical fabric, which gives a fascinating sense of the Victorians who wrote, published, bound, decorated, inscribed, catalogued and kept them, preserving them in private and public libraries until they found their way to our collection, where we can enjoy them today.

Claudia, Kensington Central Library

May’s displays from the Biography Collection

Throughout the month of May we will have two displays of books from our special  Biography Collection.

To mark the bicentenary of Queen Victoria’s birth, just up the road at Kensington Palace, on May 24th 1819, we have a range of the many biographies of her in our collection. We have coffee table books beautifully illustrated with portraits, and detailed analyses of her relationship to the huge changes that took place during her reign – politically, socially, industrially and culturally.

Every aspect of her unique life has been documented by a biographer at one time or another, making use of the incredible resource of her copious diaries, so you can read about her role as a mother, her celebrated love affair with her husband Prince Albert, her childhood, her sense of humour, her leisure pursuits, her health, and her relationships with the politicians and statesmen of her day, as well as with her royal relations all over Europe.

Her six and a half decades on the throne spanned the transition from one world to another, and her qualities as an intelligent and curious woman make her a fascinating observer of her own life and times.

Our second display is on “Londoners’ Diaries”, and is linked to Cityread London, whose choice this year is Sofia Khan is not Obliged by Ayisha Malik, the funny and touching fictional diary of a young woman negotiating the Muslim dating scene in present day London.

There is something uniquely intimate and vivid about reading the private thoughts a diarist put on paper perhaps centuries ago, and we invite you to share the excitement of travelling back to the London of earlier eras through their observations. We’ve included some of the greatest diaries ever written, like those of Samuel Pepys and Virginia Woolf, as well as the diaries of less famous Londoners like the nineteenth century schoolboy John Pocock, and contemporary diaries whose writers celebrate different aspects of life in the capital – dog walking with Edward Stourton, ambling and observing with Tim Bradford.

We can learn how Londoners experienced huge historical moments through the immediacy of daily records, like Joan Wyndham hilariously juggling her love life during the Blitz, or Kate Parry Frye, a young Kensington woman pursuing her cause as a tenacious and passionate suffragrist. Come and meet your fellow Londoners of ages past – you never know, it might even inspire you to start keeping a diary of your own!

Claudia, Kensington Central Library

 

Cityread London 2018

May’s display from the Biography Collection at Kensington Central Library showcases books related to the Spanish Civil War, as the Cityead London book this year is The Muse by Jessie Burton, a novel set partly during that time – and Cityread starts tomorrow, 1 May.

Obviously, we have picked from our shelves biographies of major political actors in the conflict, such as General Franco and the Republican President Caballero, as well as cultural figures with an association with the conflict, such as Picasso and Lorca, along with commentators such as Orwell. But we have also found that we have a fair number of volumes by or about the many ordinary people who fought in the conflict, particularly those volunteers from overseas who joined the International Brigades on the Republican side.

The Spanish Civil War is widely viewed as the prelude to the Second World War, happening as it did between 1936 and 1939, and consequently as predominantly a conflict between Democracy and Fascism. However, on closer examination, things seem much more complicated – so complicated that Biography Store team have almost despaired of writing anything brief and coherent on this topic.

The history of Spain for the hundred or so years before the outbreak of the war is very complicated but arguably characterised by extreme internal instability following the loss of nearly all of the Spanish empire in the Americas by the end of the first quarter of the nineteenth century. This was followed by attempts to modernise in competition with the other European states on a new basis. But Spain remained very underdeveloped compared to these other states in the early twentieth century, economically, socially, and politically, so that the hardship suffered in the Great Depression led to fresh instability and ultimately the War.

This was broadly between on the one side the conservative, pro-church, Army-backed “Nationalist” forces supported by Nazi Germany and Italy and on the other the Republican coalition of liberals, socialists, anarchists, and communists, which was backed by the Soviet Union, though the Republican side was far from entirely united. In this sense, one could see the war as a repeat (but with a very different outcome) of the Russian Civil War, rather than as a prelude to the Second World War. Nevertheless, the rather half-hearted support for the Republic by the Soviet Union and the non-intervention of the ‘Western’ powers can be seen as cautious foreign policy positions – wishing not to provoke premature outright confrontation with the Axis powers.

Do come into the library and take a look, and also check out our Cityread London events that are happening this month.

The Biography Store Team, Kensington Central Library

 

 

 

London in 10 Days- it’s gripping!

 

It’s 4am and Cathy Mason is watching dawn break over the Lovelace Estate. By the end of the day, her community will be a crime scene. By the end of the week, her city will be on fire. In this gripping thriller by Orange Prize-shortlisted author Gillian Slovo, ten unpredicable days of violence erupt from a stifling heatwave. And, as Westminster careers are being made or ruined, lives are at stake.

Ten Days is about what happens when policitcs, policing and the hard realities of living in London collide.

10_daysHave you heard of Cityread yet? Cityread is a London-wide initiative by Stellar Libraries CIC which aims to get Londoners reading a book – the same book – for the month of April. This year’s chosen title is the gripping Ten Days by Gillian Slovo.

And we’re lucky enough to be hosting the author herself at Chelsea Library on Tuesday 19 April from 2 to 3.30pm: free copies of the book will be available for attendees. You can book a free place online, by emailing us (libraries@rbkc.gov.uk) or by phoning Librariesline on 020 7361 3010.

Don’t miss out! A range of free events are listed on the Cityread London website. Our favourite so far: have a look at the interactive digital storytelling installation Stories from the City in Foyles on Charing Cross Road. Immerse yourself in the first vital  72 hours of Ten Days which lead up to the book’s explosive riots through a Police Control Centre; examine evidence relating to disturbances in Rockham which are rapidly escalating and have begun to spread across London; select an item of evidence from each scene and place it on the designated control panel, unlocking audio extracts from the story taken from the audiobook; explore themes and analyse evidence.

foyles_cityread
Stories from the City: interactive storytelling

The boroughs of Kensington and Chelsea, Hammersmith and Fulham and Westminster City Council are hosting a range of special events and exhibitions during the month.

Go on- get lost in a good book with the rest of your city. It might even give you something to talk about with your fellow commuters…

 

Blog post from the North – May 2013

North Kensington Library
North Kensington Library

Welcome to our May blog post from our libraries in the North.

Notting Hill Gate Library

Walk to Work Week, 13 to 17 May 2013

Notting Hill Gate Library celebrated Walk to Work Week earlier this month.

Walk to Work display at Notting Hill Gate Library
Walk to Work display at Notting Hill Gate Library

Here are some walking facts:

  • On average, every minute of walking can extend your life by 1.5 to 2 minutes
  • Longer, moderately-paced daily walks are best for losing weight
  • Shorter, faster walks are best for conditioning your heart and lungs
  • Walking burns body fat, increases energy, slows ageing, reduces the risk of cancer and elevates your mood.

For more information about this campaign, visit the Walk to Work Week website.

Crocheting Divas

Learning how to crochet
Learning how to crochet

On Saturday 18 May the Crocheting Divas came to show us how to crochet like a Diva! This was part of our Adult Learners’ Week events.

They taught us to crochet flowers, brooches and hats. Crocheting relaxes the mind and is good for the emotional wellbeing.

Crocheting flowers
Crocheting flowers

If you would like to crochet (like a diva!) they will be at Kensal Library every Monday, 1.15pm to 3pm.

The Crocheting Divas!
The Crocheting Divas!

The DIVAS provide the wool and refreshments. Bring your own crochet hooks (size 3 and 4) and a £1 donation.

Ihssan Dhimi
Ihssan Dhimi

Ihssan Dhimi

Senior Customer Services Assistant, Notting Hill Gate Library

Kensal Library

New baby rhyme time

Baby rhyme time
Baby rhyme time

We have recently changed our storytime session to a baby rhyme time session every Friday at 10.30 to 11.00am.  We have a regular nursery group attending who are very enthusiastic and love hearing a few stories before we embark on a round of nursery rhymes ending with the very popular ‘Jumping Bean’ song.

Butterfly crowns

A beautiful butterfly!
A beautiful butterfly!

We will be having a half term craft event on Friday 31st May at 3 to 4pm.  We will be making butterfly crowns so keep a look out for any children wearing them in the north of the borough!

Chatterbooks

Chatterbooks
Chatterbooks

We had an interesting Chatterbooks session this month.  The group read a fairytale (Rapunzel) and then we wrote our own fairytales but we wrote one paragraph then passed it on to the person sitting to the left of us and carried on until the story was finished.  We ended up with some very wacky and funny tales!

Natasha Chaoui,

Senior Customer Services Assistant, Kensal Library

North Kensington Library

Chatterbooks 

On Thursday 25 April our Chatterbooks group met at our usual time of 4 pm in children’s library.  As this was part of our Cityread London events we chose London and the London Underground as themes for this meeting.  Nine children attended the session; most of them were eight years old. We had one participant who was only four years old but he desperately wanted to join us and with his mother’s assistance he enjoyed every minute of it!

One of our Chatterbooks members
One of our Chatterbooks members

First we read one story from ‘London Stories’ book written by Jim Eldrige.  The stories describe London through its history up to today as seen through the eyes of the city’s children.  We read the first story which gave us some facts about London in Roman times.  Four children participated in reading and then we had short discussion about the historic facts in the story we read.

Cutting out some London Underground images
Cutting out some London Underground images

The second part of the session was the most enjoyable for the children as they used their creativity and imagination in creating futuristic posters for the London Underground.  They cut some images and did drawings and at the end we got a few lovely posters for our display. 

Creating some London Underground posters
Creating some London Underground posters

After successful work they all deserved quick refreshment with Jaffa Cakes.  Before leaving the children wanted to know when the next meeting was going to be and they were told that our next Chatterbooks meeting is held on the last Thursday in a month – which is 30 May next time.  Goodbye till then!

Adisa Behmen- Kreso
Adisa Behmen- Kreso

Adisa Behmen-Kreso

Senior Customer Services Assistant, North Kensington Library

 Words about the World  – travel writing book display

Words about the World book display at North Kensington Library
Words about the World book display at North Kensington Library

Summer is coming and for the adventurous and even the armchair traveller we have we have a display of travel writing and travel guides. We also have readers’ wall inviting you to recommend your favourite book about travel or holiday destination.  Contributions so far include destinations Brazil and Venice  recommended travel books  Brazil by Michael Palin, Lonely planet guide to Croatia and Eye witness travel guide to Vienna.

Readers' wall
Readers’ wall

Books on display include old favourites such as Dervla Murphy’s ‘Full tilt: Ireland to India with a bicycle’ and Bill Bryson’s ‘Down Under’. My favourite new titles are Tom Fort’s ‘The A303: Highway to the sun’ and John Osborne’s ‘Don’t need the sunshine’. 

Travel books
Travel books

I have many treasured memories of travelling along the A303 in the 1960s to Devon and then on to Cornwall. And was there sunshine? I remember windy days playing cricket on the beach and clambering up the rocky cliffs to retrieve the ball. We had lots of fun and we didn’t need the sun.

Gaynor Lynch
Gaynor Lynch

Gaynor Lynch

Lending Librarian, North Kensington Library

Blog post from the North – April 2013

North Kensington Library
North Kensington Library

Children’s events in the frozen North

Whan that Aprill with his shoures soote
The droghte of March hath perced to the roote,
And bathed every veyne in swich licour
Of which vertu engendred is the flour;
When April with his showers sweet with fruit
The drought of March has pierced unto the root
And bathed each vein with liquor that has power
To generate therein and sire the flower;
(Chaucer – Prologue to the Canterbury tales)

We could have done with some more gentle weather over Easter for our Cityread London story and craft session at North Kensington Library.  A handful of children braved the wind and snow to attend the session at on Thursday 8 April. Senior Customer Service Assistant, Adisa led the transport themed session.

Making buses at North Kensington Library
Making buses at North Kensington Library

Children coloured and cut out models of buses, taxis, trains etc and completed transport themed puzzles and quizzes. Eventually the snow stopped, the session ended and then scores more children were blown in through the doors so we left the craft materials out so the late arrivals could continue.

Zvezdana with her dodecahedron!
Zvezdana with her dodecahedron!

The following week, Thursday 11 April, the weather faired much better. No snow so plenty of children arrived for the football themed session led by Senior Customer Service Assistant, Zvezdena. The children coloured and cut out an ingenious dodecahedron template, demonstrated by Zvezdana, to create their own personalised footballs.

Colouring in footballs at North Kensington Library
Colouring in footballs at North Kensington Library
And yet more footballs being created at North Kensington Library
And yet more footballs being created at North Kensington Library

Gaynor Lynch

 Gaynor Lynch

Lending Librarian

Chatterbooks at Kensal Library

Chatterbooks
Chatterbooks

Chatterbooks is held one Thursday a month from 4 to 5pm.  The group are very lively but welcoming and often make me laugh.  We always have room for new members – so do come along!

To find out more about Chatterbooks and when our next meeting is – check out the Chatterbooks page on the library’s website.

Natasha Chaoui

Senior Customer Services Assistant

Reading Group at North Kensington Library

Reading group logo
Reading group logo

Our reading group meets every first Monday of the month at 6.30pm, in the Learning Space at North Kensington Library.  We are a small and very friendly group, always open to new members if you would like to come along and try it.

Some of the things members have said about the group are:

I like coming because it makes me read something completely different than what I normally read, and I have discovered some new authors that I love
It’s great fun to talk with other people about a book we’ve all read
I get fantastic book recommendations from other book club members

We read a broad range of fiction, a different book each month, so there is something for everyone.   Recently the group has read ‘Mary Barton’ by Elizabeth Gaskell, ‘My Name is Red’ by Orhan Pamuk, ‘This Book Will Change Your Life by A.M. Holmes and we read the Cityread London book ‘A Week in December’  by Sebastian Faulks.

The group will meet next on Monday 13 May at 6.30pm and we’ll be discussing ‘Sweet Tooth’ by Ian McEwan. If you would like more information about the reading group, or would like to join and borrow a copy of the book for next month, contact me at North Kensington Library.

Ishwari Prince
Ishwari Prince

Ishwari Prince

Senior Customer Services Assistant

Craft session at Notting Hill Gate

Father and child at Notting Hill Gate second craft session, with paper aeroplane
Father and child at Notting Hill Gate second craft session, with paper aeroplane

Today we had our second Craft session at Notting Hill Gate Library. We made and decorated paper aeroplanes, then flew them around the library!

Notting Hill Gate second craft session
Notting Hill Gate’s second craft session

We also decorated pictures of flying dragons. Parents and staff joined in on the fun, flying, collecting and trying to find aeroplanes around the library when they would land in the wrong target zone.

Join us at our next session on Saturday 25 May.

Ihssan Dhimi
Ihssan Dhimi

by Ihssan Dhimi

Senior Customer Services Assistant

The Chelsea Blog – April 2013

Chelsea Library
Chelsea Library

Hello from us all at Chelsea Library! Chelsea Children’s Library has been very busy as we ran a number of successful children’s events over the school holidays. This month we’re starting a new mini series on The Chelsea Blog – some interesting  facts about Chelsea Reference Library.

Children’s events

Our events this month tied in with the London wide Cityread London campaign. This year’s book is ‘A Week In December’ by Sebastian Faulks. We tailored our craft events to themes in the novel.

Chelsea Children's Library City Reads
A London Underground bookmark

For our first event we prepared materials with a London Underground and football theme. Boys and girls relished making their very own designed bookmarks.

A football bookmark
A football bookmark
Another football bookmark!
Another football bookmark

And as you can see the results were impressive! The children then gathered around for a Thomas the Tank engine story.

Easter crafts
Easter crafts

Our next event was on the lines of an Easter egg hunt only this time we used miniature chocolate footballs. First of all the children cut out a card template and then assembled with glue a little Easter basket . This was then filled with shredded paper to resemble straw.

An Easter bunny mask
An Easter bunny mask

We hid clues for the hunt  throughout the children’s library  and   excitedly the boys and girls went off in search of the chocolate balls. We then read ‘Football crazy’ by Colin  McNaughton.

Baby rhyme time was exciting this month as it had a London theme  too – we all sang:

  • London Bridge is falling down
  • Oranges and lemons
  • Pussy cat, pussy cat where have you been?
  • Do you know the muffin man?

Everyone joined in and promised to come to storytime the next day where we continued the London theme – we adapted ‘Puss in Boots’ and  to a London setting and the Marquis of Carabas became the Marquis of Sloane Square  and the river in the story changed to the Thames.

Details of when our children’s events are can be found on the ‘What’s on page’ on our website.

Rob Symmons

Lending Librarian

Great facts about Chelsea Reference Library

#1.The Fashion Collection

 Chelsea Reference Library has an extensive collection of fashion books as well as a large archive of fashion magazines dating back to 1924.

Traditional costume
Traditional costume

The book collection covers a wide range of subjects such as costume and fashion history, regional and national costumes, occupational attire, military uniforms and different types of accessories including jewellery, shoes, hats etcetera. Our fashion books are beautifully illustrated and have great content. The fashion and costume collection is widely used by students from Chelsea College of Art and Design based in Chelsea as well as other library users with a particular interest in fashion.

Vogue Magazine - January 2013
Vogue Magazine – January 2013

Our magazine archives include Vogue Magazine (1923 till present) Harper’s Bazaar (1950 till present, albeit with a small gap in the sequence) and L’Officiel (1947-2001). We also have a small collection of Manufacturing Clothier (1973-1988) and Vogue USA.

More information can be found on our costume collection web page.

The Chelsea Reference Library Staff

Legends of Underground London

Antony Clayton
Antony Clayton

As part of the Cityread London campaign, historian Antony Clayton came to Kensington Central Library to give a talk on the Legends of Underground London.

London is a city which is riddled with tunnels and passageways of all kinds from the “official” tunnels belonging to Transport for London, the Royal Mail and other institutions to the many secret passages under pubs and other private buildings. Not to mention those belonging to the so-called “secret state”.

Nearly a hundred people came to the event last night and enjoyed Antony’s erudite talk. We can’t recreate that for you but here are some of the images Antony showed the audience.

Morpeth Arms, Millbank
Morpeth Arms, Millbank
The 'so-called' cells beneath the Morpeth Arms
The ‘so-called’ cells beneath the Morpeth Arms
Crystal Palace pneumatic railway
Crystal Palace pneumatic railway
The site of British Museum tube station
The site of British Museum tube station
The former entrance to Kingsway telephone exchange
The former entrance to Kingsway telephone exchange

Dave Walker

Dave Walker

Local Studies Librarian
 

Further Information

Antony Clayton is the author of many books that can be found in our libraries:

  • Subterranean City: Beneath the Streets of London
  • The Folklore of London
  • Decadent London
  • London’s Coffee Houses

Cityread London

Blog post from the North – March 2013

North Kensington Library
North Kensington Library

Welcome to our blog post from the north! This month we thought we’d tell you about the exciting things that have been happening at all three of the libraries in the north – Kensal, Notting Hill Gate and North Kensington, libraries.

What’s been happening at North Kensington’s Children’s Library?

This past two months we have had a very busy time in North Kensington Children’s library and it continues to be so.

Ishwari Prince
Ishwari Prince

Saturday 9 February was National Libraries Day.  To celebrate this Senior Customer Services Assistant Ishwari Prince led a children’s craft and story session with ‘create your own book’.  This involved some origami type folding and cutting to make simple books, which the children filled with their own ideas, pictures and stories.  We were all very impressed with the creative and original ideas the children came up with, and everyone enjoyed themselves. Please visit the National Libraries Day website for more information about this day.

Valentine's Day crafts on display
Valentine’s Day crafts on display

Senior Customer Services Assistant, Zvezdana Popovic launched our new after school children’s story and craft Sessions (second Thursday of every month, 4pm to 5pm) on  Valentine’s Day  with appropriately themed crafts and romantic verse.

Spring books on display
Spring books on display

We are celebrating Spring Time with a display of books including fact books about animals, urban nature trails and nature guides, festivals such as Easter and Holi and stories for children of all ages.  We have lots of picture books and board books about spring animals.  For toddlers and babies we have I love rabbits, an interactive touch and feel book full of adorable fluffy rabbits.

My favourite fact books are Wild Town: Wildlife on your doorstep by Mike Dilger  and Usborne Spotter’s Guides: Urban Wildlife. You don’t have to visit the countryside or have a garden to enjoy nature. Both of these beautifully illustrated books introduce you to the secret world of wildlife in our cities and towns. They give useful tips on where to spot birds, animals, plants and creepy-crawlies in your local park, alongside rivers and canals and even on your doorstop or under your roof!

Gaynor Lynch
Gaynor Lynch

Gaynor Lynch

Lending Librarian, North Kensington Library

North Kensington Library’s Chatterbooks club

Chatterbooks
Chatterbooks

North Kensington Library’s Chatterbooks club is a reading group for children aged 8 to 12 years.   The club members meet on the last Thursday of the month at 4pm in North Kensington Children’s Library.  The club gives opportunity for children to share their reading experiences, discuss books, do fun activities including writing stories and poetry, quizzes and word search.  New members are welcome, so come and join us! Check out our Chatterbooks page for more information.

Adisa Behmen-Kreso

Senior Customer Services Assistant, North Kensington Library

New story and craft sessions at Notting Hill Gate Library

Story and craft sessions
Story and craft sessions

Notting Hill Gate Library will be holding monthly story and craft sessions on the last Saturday of every month. Come have fun with your children, give them a chance to explore their creativity, meet new friends and better yet it’s free!

The first session will be on Saturday 27 April, 11.30 am to 12.30pm. Hope to see you and your children there!

Ihssan Dhimi
Ihssan Dhimi

Ihssan Dhimi

Senior Customer Services Assistant, Notting Hill Gate Library

What’s been happening at Kensal Library?

Kensal Library
Kensal Library

Come along to hear wonderful stories read by engaging friendly staff at Kensal Library at our storytime sessions every Friday from 11am to 11.30am.   One Mum commented that her son and herself thought the staff were ‘amazing’.

We have a new collection of Portuguese and Arabic titles in stock which reflect the needs of our community here in the north of the borough. There’s more information about our this collection on our books in other languages page on our website.

Our first story and craft event was well attended and the children enjoyed the theme.  We read a fictional story about sharks and then looked at some non-fiction books and talked about sharks and why people are scared of them and how we can protect endangered species before making some spectacular shark jaws! The next session will be on Saturday 13 April from 3 to 4pm and will be tied in to our Cityread London events.

Natasha Chaoui

Senior Customer Services Assistant,  Kensal Library

Cityread London

Have you heard about Cityread London?

Cityread London
Cityread London

Cityread London is a campaign to spread a love of books and reading to the widest possible audience throughout our capital. By choosing one book- A Week in December by Sebastian Faulks – for the whole city to read, discuss and debate, the aim of the campaign is bring Londoners together in a series of special events, across London and online. This year’s Cityread London campaign will launch in our libraries and across the capital on 2 April 2013.

Sebastian Faulks
Sebastian Faulks

As well as opportunities to borrow A Week in December (and other works by Sebastian Faulks) from our libraries, there will also be events for children, families, young people and adults in April 2013.  

A Week In December by Sebastian Faulks
A Week In December by Sebastian Faulks

Cityread events for adults

Trains, Trams and Buses: Images from the History of Transport in Kensington and Chelsea – An Exhibition

Number 73 bus and some interesting pedestrians!
Number 73 bus and some interesting pedestrians!

Come and see images from the Local Studies collection. This exhibition has been curated by Kensington and Chelsea Local Studies Library at the following libraries:

  • Tuesday 2 to Saturday 6 April, Kensington Central Library
  • Monday 8 to Saturday 13 April, Brompton Library,
  • Monday 15 to Sunday 21 April, Chelsea Library
  • Monday 22 to Saturday 27 April, North Kensington Library

Creative Writing Workshop with Tamara Pollock

Tamara Pollock
Tamara Pollock

Wednesday 10 April, 2 to 4pm at Brompton Library

In this two-hour workshop led by writer and workshop director, Tamara Pollock, we will look at incorporating the theme of London in a short story. We will briefly examine the way in which Sebastian Faulks depicts London life in his novel, A Week in December. This workshop is designed to ease writers into the process of short story writing and to answer questions about character, structure and dialogue.

Places are strictly limited for this workshop, so please book your free place early at Brompton Library.

Legends of Underground London

Subterranean City by Antony Clayton
Subterranean City by Antony Clayton

Thursday 11 April, 6.30 to 8pm at Kensington Central Library

Antony Clayton, author of Subterranean City: Beneath the Streets of London, presents an illustrated talk that will uncover some of the colourful folklore of underground London including legends of secret tunnels and passages, pigs in the sewers and buried trains. Please book your free place to this event at Kensington Central Library.

Inconvenient People – Lunacy, Liberty and the Mad-Doctors in Victorian England

Sarah Wise
Sarah Wise

Thursday 18 April, 6.30 to 8pm at Kensington Central Library

Sarah Wise looks at 75 years of psychiatry in 19th Century England bringing to light new research and unseen stories of contested lunacy. Exploring Victorian social history, she provides a unique insight into the sexuality, fears and greed of the Victorian middle class. Sebastian Faulks chose this as one of his Books of the Year (2012). Sarah did some of the research for her book at Kensington and Chelsea Local Studies Library. Please book your free place to this event at Kensington Central Library.

Cityread events for children, families and young people

Drama Workshop with Chickenshed Kensington and Chelsea

Chickenshed Kensington and Chelsea in action!
Chickenshed Kensington and Chelsea in action!

Tuesday 9 April, 2 to 3pm at Kensington Central Library

Age: seven to 14

Join Chickenshed Kensington and Chelsea for a fun-filled, inclusive performance workshop. Inspired by the 150th birthday of the London Underground we’ll be heading off on an adventure exploring London through dance, drama and music. This is a great opportunity for young people to develop their performance skills using Chickenshed’s proven teaching methods and unique performance style. Places are limited so please book your free place in advance at Kensington Central Children’s Library.

Story and Craft Sessions – Kensington and Chelsea Libraries

Story and craft sessions
Story and craft sessions

We’ll be having special Cityread story and craft sessions for children aged four to ten at the following libraries:

  • Tuesday 2 April, 2 to 3pm at Notting Hill Gate Library
  • Thursday 4 April and Thursday 11 April, 2 to 3pm at Kensington Central Library
  • Thursday 4 April and Thursday 11 April, 2.30 to 3.30pm at North Kensington Library
  • Saturday 6 April and Saturday 13 April, 11am to 12 noon at Brompton Library
  • Saturday 6 April and Saturday 13 April, 11am to 12 noon at Chelsea Library
  • Saturday 13 April, 3 to 4pm at Kensal Library

We hope that you will be inspired to join in with this campaign in order to make London’s second Cityread has successful as the first. More details about how to book are on our Cityread events page and for more events across London take a look at Cityread London’s website too.

Jodie Green, Lending Librarian
Jodie Green

Jodie Green

Lending Librarian