The London Library Lit Fest is taking place from Thursday 27 April – Sunday 30 April 2023.

Open to everyone, The London Library Lit Fest will bring together leading figures from the literary world for an eclectic, inspiring and thought-provoking long weekend of conversation, performance, art and music exploring themes of collections, collecting and collectives. Events include creative workshops, fascinating panel discussions, and the first ever performance of Sylvia Pankhurst’s formidable long-lost play Between Two Fires.

Events will be held in the Library’s famous Reading Room across the evenings of Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and all day on Sunday. Events will be livestreamed, opening the Library to all. 

The Programme


Explore portraits of women writers in an exhibition by South African born, UK-based artist, Susanne du Toit. The exhibition launch, in which this complete series of works is shown for the first time and throughout the festival, is followed by a very special salon with Susanne and some of her illustrious sitters including Juliet Jacques, Dreda Say Mitchell and Sacha Llewellyn and Lara Feigel.


Don’t miss an electrifying evening of poetry, performance, dance and music to honour TS Eliot's epic poem, The Waste Land and the city it inhabits. Featuring poets Ben Okri, Jay Bernard, Will Harris, Sophie Herxheimer, Daljit Nagra, Richard Scott and Hannah Sullivan, singer songwriter Polly Paulusma and dancer Charlotte Jarvis. An exhibition of sculptures by Jacqueline Nicholls, which grapple with The Waste Land, will be hidden among the Library’s stacks and can also be enjoyed throughout the festival.


Discover Between Two Fires, the powerful long-lost play that Sylvia Pankhurst wrote in solitary confinement in HMP Holloway with a contraband pencil. Performed for the first time in a rehearsed reading directed by Roxana Silbert, it will be followed by a panel discussion with Pankhurst’s biographer Rachel Holmes; her granddaughter activist Helen Pankhurst; playwright Sonali Bhattacharyya and London Library archivist Nathalie Belkin. The cast are yet to be announced.

Two inspiring writing workshops will run in partnership with Arvon, the national creative writing charity, across Saturday and Sunday. Artist and poet Sophie Herxheimer will lead a workshop on found and collage poetry using the Library’s collection and novelist Marcel Theroux will lead a workshop on writing politics into fiction. Workshops are in-person only.


We kick off Sunday with a showcase of amazing talent from some former participants on our prestigious Emerging Writers Programme. Later in the day we’ll take a fascinating look at anthologies, encyclopaedias and indexes with Simon Garfield, Dennis Duncan, Clare Bucknell and Rishi Dastidar, dissecting the cultural, social and political history of information collation in the Age of Google. Meanwhile, flipping the patriarchy on its head in their most recent books, activist and writer, Yassmin Abdel-Magied brings together Carole Hailey and Ayisha Malik to explore gender, silence and revolution.

And rounding off this year’s Lit Fest, five speakers delve into the Library's idiosyncratic Science and Miscellaneous section to celebrate the Library’s weird and wild heart in a lively event in partnership with 5x15, including poet and playwright Inua Ellams on 'Music', bestselling author Kate Summerscale on 'Fear', award-winning psychotherapist Maxine Mei-Fung Chung on 'Sex' (and desire), film critic Danny Leigh on 'Typewriters' and legendary journalist and biographer Philip Norman on 'Press'.

Please note that the lockers will not be available throughout the festival. Ticketholders are advised to not bring large bags.

Find out more and book now!

The London Library LitFest is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England and by Fondation Jan Michalski.

Support The London Library

The London Library is a registered charity and from its inception, philanthropy has played a central role in helping to keep its doors openPlease consider making a donation today and help us to continue inspiring generations of writers, readers and thinkers. 

Make a Donation

Today there are a variety of different ways in which your support, whatever its size, can make a real and important difference.

General Donations

If you wish to donate to the core function of the Library you can choose to donate to general funds, which means we can direct your support wherever it is needed mostDonations like theswill help ensure the continuous running of the building, and the operation of the Library. Donate here. 

The most important contribution towards the core function of the Library comes from the members of our patrons programme; The Founders’ Circle. Learn more about this programme here.

Our Collection

Each year the Library acquires around 6000 new books to add to the collection and the Library's Conservation Team work to keep our existing books in a useable condition

By supporting us with a donation towards book acquisitions, you can help us improve our collection for current and future generations and ensure that everyone is able to find the books they need to use.

You can also support with a donation towards book conservation. Over the years our books see a lot of wear and tear from usage and there are books in our safes that have become too delicate to handle. A donation towards the care of our collection will allow our Conservation Team to repair damaged books and send rare books away for specialist care, so they can, where possible, be put back into circulation.

Emerging Writers Programme

The Library's Emerging Writers' Programme supports unpublished writers at the start of their careers. Each year a cohort of 40 writers receive one year's free Library membership and a programme of writing masterclasses, networking opportunities and peer support. Find out more about the Emerging Writers Programme here.

The Emerging Writers Programme is entirely funded by donations and sponsorship, please support this programme and help an unpublished writer gain access to the Library and career changing resources.

Supported Membership

In order to make sure the Library is accessible to as many people as possible, the Library offers an assisted membership to those unable to meet the full annual fee. Those who are eligible will normally have membership fees reduced by 30%, or in exceptional cases 60%. 

By donating to Supported Memberships, those who may not be able to afford to use the Library's services are provided with the opportunity to join and have access to all the amazing resources of the Library.

Library Fund

The Library Fund is an annual fundraising campaign focused on improving the Library in ways that directly impact its users. Every year, supporters of the Fund make possible one special project to enhance how members and the wider Library community enjoy its buildings or make use of its collections.

In 2018/19 The Library Fund successfully funded the complete replacement of 13 old and damaged windows in the St James's Stacks, helping transform this historic part of the Library and creating wonderful new working spaces. In 2019/20 the Library Fund raised money to refurbish the men's and women's toilets on the Library's red staircase. This project will be completed as soon as is practically possible. 

Any new donations to the Library Fund will be put towards future projects to enhance how people use and enjoy the Library.

Find out more about The Library Fund here.

Make a Donation



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Thanks for coming to see The Time Machine at The London Library. We hope you enjoyed exploring space and time in our labyrinthine building!

Founded in 1841 The London Library is one of the world’s great lending libraries. An extraordinary history, a vast borrowing collection and an outstanding building make this a unique place to think, to write and to be inspired.

From Sarah Waters to Kazuo Ishiguro; Charles Dickens to TS Eliot; Virginia Woolf to Bram Stoker; we’ve been at the heart of literature for over 175 years. We have always been a home for anyone who loves the written word.

Membership offer

We are delighted to offer 25% off membership to anyone that has attended The Time Machine!

Just use code 25TIME at checkout on our website.

We have various types of membership available and with this special offer:

  • Full Individual membership costs around £33 a month or £375 by annual Direct Debit;
  • 16-27 year olds and partners of existing members pay around £16 a month or £187.50 by annual Direct Debit;
  • Associate membership costs around £22 a month or £243.75 by annual Direct Debit;
  • Remote membership is around £18 a month or £191.25 by annual Direct Debit.

Find out more about our membership types on our website.

If you are interested in joining you can also book a Prospective Member Tour.

Join Now

Benefits of membership

Our collection contains over million books and periodicals, dating from 1700 to the present day, almost all of which can be borrowed. Members can browse 17 miles of open access shelves for an unforgettable voyage of literary discovery!

We also provide an extensive range of electronic resources giving members online access, from anywhere in the world, to over 25,000 academic journals and other scholarly resources.

During the show you saw some of our vast labyrinth of books, hidden corners and beautiful working spaces, from elegant reading rooms to atmospheric bookstacks. There is, of course, much more to see and explore, we are a unique literary oasis in the heart of London and our members can make full use of resources.

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View and download The London Library floorplan and find some key information about using the Library building.

Reading rooms and desks

The Library has 3 reading rooms on the 1st floor above the Issue Hall, the Foyle Lightwell reading room on the lower ground floor and non-quiet reading rooms in the 6th Floor Suite. There are also a number of individual desks located around the stacks.

Access requirements

Members with access requirements may contact Reception at any time to findout how we can meet their needs. This includes level access to the building, lifts to many of the Library’s spaces, accessible toilets, and screen readers.

Download floorplan here

LL Floor Plan April 22