The 7th London History Festival 2015

Here at Festival HQ (my lair in the archives) we’re all engaged in frantic last minute activity preparing for the 7th annual London History Festival which starts on Monday 16th October. We have another line-up of eminent historians who will be covering wide range of historical eras.

London History Festival 2015
London History Festival 2015

On the 17th Mark Morris and Thomas Asbridge will be interviewed by Sophie Ambler about their latest books. It is of course 800 years since the signing of Magna Carta, a good time to look back at this crucial part of British history The next evening Jessie Child looks at security threats, repression and radicalisation – but not in the modern world but the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. The last event of the first week is also about security and intelligence – Max Hastings speaks about the secret war which went on behind the scenes in WW2.

In the second week we go back to Imperial Rome with Tom Holland who has written many books about the ancient world. Dynasty is about the early years of the Empire and the Emperors who ruled it. On the 24th November we return to the secret was with Sinclair McKay and David Boyle who will discuss Bletchley Park, its effects on the course of the war and the character of its most famous figure Alan Turing, the father of modern computing.

Finally Dan Jones and Helen Castor talk about a British dynasty – the Plantagenets and their struggle to take and retain power.

This year’s programme of author events is as good as any of the previous six programmes. If you’ve been before you know about the quality of the speakers and if you haven’t why not give one of the events a try? The Library service is committed to providing added value for regular users and visitors and what could be better than bringing together authors and readers for learning and entertainment.

The Tri-Borough Library Service of which Kensington and Chelsea is part has a million books in its stock available for users in three boroughs. For the Festival we are in partnership with Chalke Author, the freelance consultancy and publicity agency for authors, who provide the speakers, History Today, the best known British magazine devoted to history and Waterstones Kensington branch who will be selling signed copies of books by the speakers at all the events.

I’ve been associated with the London History Festival since it started. It’s always hard work and always fun (I tell myself afterwards.)

by
Dave Walker,
Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, Local Studies Librarian

London History Festival 16 to 26 November

Welcome to the 7th London History Festival hosted by Kensington Central Library and Waterstones. It is a literary festival that aims to bring the work of the finest historians to the widest possible audience. The festival consists of a series of talks and discussions followed by book signings.

London History Festival 2015
London History Festival 2015

Part of us is amazed that we’ve got this far, but another part says it should be no surprise with the quality of speakers we’ve been able to present. This year’s programme has the same combination of eminent historians covering a wide range of subjects. Some veterans of the festival return – Max Hastings, Tom Holland, Jessie Childs, Helen Castor, Marc Morris and Dan Jones. But also some new names – Thomas Asbridge, Sinclair McKay and David Boyle. The subjects range from ancient Rome to World War 2 with much that is relevant to the world as it is today. A big thanks to the other Festival Director Richard Foreman. None of it would be possible without him.

If you’re interested in the history of Kensington and Chelsea, the most fascinating Borough in London, Local Studies Librarian Dave Walker writes a weekly blog, The Library Time Machine exploring aspects of the history of the Royal Borough through photographs, artworks and maps from the Local Studies Collection. Recently he has written about book illustrators and advertising, as well as adding some guest bloggers. There always seems to be something new to discover.

Please collect a programme from any of our libraries.

As well as hosting part of the London History Festival, we also have a fringe taster event.

Hoards (Greek & Roman coin hoards and Viking hoards) author talk by Eleanor Ghey

Ghey - book cover image
Ghey – book cover image

This was held on Monday 9th November, at Kensington Central Library

Hackney hoard - coins in a jar
Hackney hoard – coins in a jar

The talk focused on the hoards discovered in London including the Cheapside Hoard of exquisite Elizabethan jewellery, and the Hackney Hoard buried during the Second World War by a family fearing a German invasion. Eleanor Ghey is Project Curator in the Department of Coins and Medals at the British Museum.

Hackney hoard coins
Hackney hoard coins
Hackney Hoard Double Eagles
Hackney Hoard Double Eagles

The London History Festival 2013 – fringe events

London History Festival 2013
London History Festival 2013

London History Festival

18 to 28 November 2013

Kensington Central Library and Waterstones Kensington

Kensington Central Library and Waterstones Kensington will be hosting the fifth London History Festival this autumn.

Sir Max Hastings will be talking about his new history of the First World War. We are also pleased to welcome for the first time Lady Antonia Fraser on the Great Reform Bill, Artemis Cooper on Patrick Leigh Fermor and Charles Moore on Lady Margaret Thatcher.

There are also events on medieval warfare, the British soldier and in our fringe events Bohemian Soho, the Suffragette movement and the history of the Arab peoples. The Festival is bigger and better than ever.

I will blog about the London History Festival events in more detail soon – in the meantime you can collect a programme from your local Kensington and Chelsea Library or check out the London History Festival events page on our website.

The London History Festival 2013 – fringe events

John McHugo: A Concise History of the Arabs

John McHugo
John McHugo

Tuesday 15 October, 6.30 to 8pm
Kensington Central Library

Join John McHugo who will talk about his recently published work A Concise History of the Arabs which deals with the political, social and intellectual history of the Arabs from the Roman Empire right up to the present day. He will cover the mission of the Prophet Muhammad, the expansion of Islam, medieval and modern conflicts, the interaction with Western ideas, the struggle to escape foreign domination, the rise of Islamism, and the end of the era of dictators. The book reveals how the Arab world came to have its present form, why change was inevitable and what choices lie ahead following the Arab Spring. This will be followed by a Q and A session.

This event will be hosted by Kensington and Chelsea libraries in partnership with Al Saqi Books and is part of the Nour Festival. Tickets for this event are £5 (£3 concessions) and are on sale at all Kensington and Chelsea libraries and via Librariesline on 020 7361 3010.

Sophie Parkin: The Colony Room: a history of Bohemian Soho 1948 – 2008

Sophie Parkin
Sophie Parkin

Thursday 17 October, 6.30 to 8pm
Kensington Central Library

Sophie Parkin tells the story of the Colony Room which opened in Dean Street in 1948. For sixty years it became a meeting place for some of the most creative minds of modern times in music, theatre, art, literature, comedy and espionage. Sophie has collected tales of high jinks and low tragedy over 50 interviews with the members of one of London’s unique institutions.
Tickets for this event are £5 (£3 concessions) and are on sale at all Kensington and Chelsea libraries and via Librariesline on 020 7361 3010.

Lucinda Hawksley: March, Women, March

Lucinda Hawksley
Lucinda Hawksley

Tuesday 29 October, 6.30 to 8pm
Kensington Central Library

Lucinda Hawksley will be talking about her new book, March, Women, March, which traces the voices of the women’s movement in Britain, from Mary Wollstonecraft in the 18th century through to the “Flapper Election” of 1929, when all adult women were finally permitted to vote. As well as the famous names March, Women, March also recalls the many brilliant campaigners whose names have been forgotten over the years. Come and hear the witty, inspirational and shocking stories of how the vote was won.

Tickets for this event are £5 (£3 concessions) and are on sale at all Kensington and Chelsea libraries and via Librariesline on 020 7361 3010.

Dave Walker
Dave Walker

Dave Walker

Local Studies Librarian, Kensington Central Library

The London History Festival 2012

London History Festival Cover 2012
London History Festival 2012

 November at the Central Library means the London History Festival now in its fourth year.

We started the Festival in partnership with the literary agency Chalke Authors with the intention of improving our programme of author events. By concentrating on one subject (one of the most popular non-fiction topics) for two weeks we could get more authors and present them not only on their own but talking to each other in panel events. In the first year we covered Women in history (with Alison Weir, Sarah Gristwood and Claire Mulley), Greatest battles and war reporting but also had the time to devote a whole event to a serious academic history of the English Civil War by John Adamson, interviewed by the editor of History Today Paul Lay. History Today magazine has supported the Festival since it started and became a sponsor from the second year.

The success of the first festival enabled us to attract bigger authors to the event. In the second year Anthony Beevor made his first appearance discussing his blockbuster books about the Second World War with Roger Moorhouse another historian familiar with doing research into the war years. They spoke about how the opening up of East German and Russian archives after the fall of the Soviet Union has changed our view of the period.

That year we also had panel events on the always popular subjects of the Tudors and the Victorians.

Sometimes of course things don’t go according to plan. I was particularly keen to have an event on ancient history and we arranged for Tom Holland and Richard Miles to discuss their specialist subjects in Rome and Carthage. Richard Miles was unable to make it so Tom Holland had to carry the whole event supported by Paul Lay. Tom was surprisingly adept at covering both sides of the argument and the event was a success. The one disappointment for me was that I had been told that because Tom started his literary career writing vampire novels (pretty good ones too) he always got a couple of Goths at his events. But no Goths appeared so I was denied the chance to get a quirky photo.

In the third year we collaborated with Waterstone’s Kensington High Street branch and split the individual events between us. The Library presented the big authors. We had local resident Simon Sebag Montefiore talking about his books on Jerusalem and Russia. Max Hastings delivered a completely solo talk on his history of World War Two through the experiences of ordinary soldiers and civilians. Sir Max worked standing up and without an interlocutor, taking over the lecture theatre with his customary confidence. Our final night featured award winning biographer Claire Tomalin talking about her new biography of Charles Dickens. This was probably the most popular event the Festival has seen so far.

We think of the Festival as a way of giving something extra to our regular readers and as a way of bringing new users to the library. At a time when the publishing industry is changing due to the introduction of e-reading, and when many people get their books from online retailers, events like the Festival bring readers and writers together in an actual rather than virtual place. People can see, hear and talk to authors, which is good for writers, readers, publishers and librarians.

LHF2011
London History Festival cover 2011

Next week I’ll tell you what I’m looking forward to in this year’s London History Festival.

Tickets for this year’s Festival are available from all our Libraries and by phone from LibrariesLine (020 7361 3010). For further details see also the What’s on page on the Council website and the Libraries Facebook page.

Dave Walker
Dave Walker

by Dave Walker