Inspirations from our Biography Collection

For this month’s special display from our Biography Collection at Kensington Central Library, library staff were asked to nominate figures who had inspired them.

See what Steve Biko, RuPaul, Malcolm X, J. K. Rowling, Jimi Hendrix, Lauren Bacall, Tove Jansson, David Attenborough and many others mean to members of staff, learn more about them from their biographies – and see if we have a book about your own inspiring figure in our collection. With around 85,000 titles spanning two centuries of publishing, there is a good chance we do!

Mzu chose: Steve Biko

Bantu Stephen Biko…popularly known as Steve  Biko. Apart from teaching us that democracy is something to fight for, constantly, my inspiration,
Steve Biko, a South African anti-apartheid activist (18 December 1946 – 12 September 1977), was known for his slogan ‘black is beautiful’, which he
described as meaning ‘you are okay as you are, begin to look upon yourself as a human being.’ He fully understood that the foundation of any true
liberation is self-love.

Fani chose: Helen Keller

I would like to suggest one of my favourite authors, Helen Keller because this woman overcame her  dual disability and managed to live the life that she dreamt without barriers. I love the below words from her: ‘The best and most beautiful things in the world  cannot be seen or even touched- they must be felt  with the heart’.

Katie chose: Patrick Leigh Fermor

Adventurer, polyglot, lover of people and nature, Leigh Fermor  explored the world and wrote about its beauty. His ‘Time of Gifts’  books feature his walking journey from the Hook of Holland to  Constantinople and he has written many delightful books on his  daring exploits and travels.

Nina chose: David Attenborough

The most inspiring man who seems capable of uniting the whole world. People from all over the globe have grown up to the sound of his husky voice telling them about the weird and wonderful things that exist in nature, and many were made aware of dangers that threaten them though watching his programmes. He is a man so universally liked that I have no doubt he would be chosen as the President of the World if such a role existed.

If you’re nearby, do pop into the library and take a look at the display – we’re sure you’ll be inspired too.

Claudia, Kensington Central Library


Our top ten all time best posts!

We were having a browse through the archives and loved reading the posts that stirred the most interest! Revisit the top 10 writings that most tickled your fancy…

1) A little bit of French ooh-la-la! Read all about Margaine-Lacroix and the dresses that shocked Paris

2)  Vogue cover stars at Chelsea Library. The Shrimp, Twiggy, La Moss and Naomi Campbell all graced the cover of Chelsea Library’s Vogue magazine collection

Kate Moss cover #2
Kate Moss, Vogue, 2012

3) The clothes of a Dandy are simple but impeccably cut…Learn more in  The history behind Mr Darcy’s wardrobe

4) A celebration of all things sporty, including Agnes Beckwith, The Greatest Lady Swimmer in the World. Sport and fashion

5) Do you find your children need to be coaxed into drinking their cocktails? Here’s the answer: Modern Publicity – cigarettes and alcohol

6) All things knitting! Did you know men are doing it too?! Knitting: the beautiful game.

Edward Llwyd of Bala, photgraphed around 1875, believed to be one of the last of the local stocking-knitters
Edward Llwyd of Bala, photgraphed around 1875, believed to be one of the last of the local stocking-knitters

7) It might sound like a leg-pull, but you do realise that the library that you visit is haunted, don’t you? No? Then read on…Haunted Libraries

8) The first ever Brompton Blog! Meet all the Brompton bloggers in The Brompton Blog- September 2012

9) Patrick Leigh Fermor was a young man of 17 when he decided to walk, in 1933, from the Hook of Holland to Constantinople. Read about his journey in The Broken Road by Patrick Leigh Fermor, The Long- Awaited Third Volume

10) Winter Kimonos: beautiful images from beautiful books in Chelsea’s costume and fashion collection

Kimono by Issey Miyake
Kimono by Issey Miyake

We’ve covered everything from swimming costumes to kimonos, books to ghosts, in our blog, and there’s plenty more where that comes from…what would you like to see in your local library blog next?


Kensington Central Library – November 2013

Kensington Central Library
Kensington Central Library

Hello to you all from the staff at Kensington Central Library. It’s been yet another busy month here and we’ve lots to tell you about from displays, to events to service changes.

Who’s Who?

Dr Who display at Kensington Central Library
Dr Who display at Kensington Central Library

We  decided to honour the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who with a display of some of the many books we have in stock on this landmark TV series. 50 years! How did that happen? A blink of an eye for a Time Lord but a half century for us humans.

I have distinct childhood memories of the Doctor’s adventures through space and time, beamed to me via an old three channel Radio Rentals TV (Google it kids!) that stood in one corner of my childhood home. There are the Daleks of course but also the Cybermen as well as the dreaded, and to a six or seven year old me, utterly terrifying Sea Devils. “My” Doctor was Jon Pertwee, the dandy and expert in Venusian Aikido. Favourite Pertwee episode, “The Green Death” the one with the giant maggots!

Amazingly for such a popular and innovative show it was axed by the BBC for a number of years, a relief to me as it seemed that the later incarnations of the Doctor lacked punch and the storylines were laughable. Now of course it is hard to imagine the show being absent from the schedules given that new life has been breathed into the franchise once more. Eccleston, Tennant, Smith and now Malcom Tucker!

Who would have thought?

Mike Green
Mike Green

 Mike Green

Senior Customer Services Assistant

 London History Festival 2013

London History Festival 2013
London History Festival 2013

We’re really lucky to host the London History Festival for the fifth time at Kensington  Central Library – it’s such a fantastic opportunity to hear about our history spoken and debated about with such passion. Last week we had Sir Max Hastings speak about the First World War and Dan Snow and Marc Morris talk about medieval England.

Dan Snow and Marc Morris - signing books!
Dan Snow and Marc Morris – signing books!

Next week there are three events and a few tickets are still available:

  • Monday 25 November (TONIGHT!) – Antonia Fraser talks about The Great Reform Bill of 1832
  • Tuesday 26 November – Saul David and Col. Stuart Tootal discuss the British Army and its soldiers
  • Thursday 28 November – Artemis Cooper talks about the life and times of writer Patrick Leigh Fermor

There are more details on our events page – hope to see you there!

New displays

More new book displays this month include tributes to Doris Lessing and John F. Kennedy. Both these displays have items from our Biography Collection.

 Biography Collection – temporarily closed

And speaking of which – we will be getting new shelving in the basement where this collection is housed so we won’t be able to retrieve any items from later this month until February 2014. We’re really sorry for any inconvenience caused. Please speak to a member of staff if you need more information.

Jodie Green, Lending Librarian
Jodie Green

Jodie Green

Lending Librarian