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The London Library has announced the names of the second group of writers who will benefit from its Emerging Writers Programme. Of the 40 writers selected for the Emerging Writers Programme: 4 are poets; 6 are playwrights; 6 are screenwriters; 6 are planning non-fiction books and 18 are planning to write fiction. 12 of the writers are under 28. See the whole cohort here.

Isabelle Dupuy, Chair of the judging panel, author and trustee of The London Library comments;

'It's been a great honour to chair our Emerging Writers Programme this year. We had just reached the deadline for submissions when our lockdown began. Reading through over eight hundred writing samples ranging from non-fiction to poetry to screenplays with topics going from president Truman being told about the nuclear bomb to the impressions of a newly arrived Jamaican boy at a London comprehensive gave us all a deep appreciation of the talent, energy and range of voices striving to emerge in London and beyond. This is a historical year. Never before in my lifetime have I seen such an interest in changing the nature of the narrative in our country. We are convinced the cohort of 2020 will play an important role in shaping this new narrative. On behalf of The London Library, thank you.'

The Library’s Emerging Writers Programme is geared towards supporting writers at the start of their careers and helping develop their work. Participants benefit from one year’s free membership of The London Library (which normally costs £540 per annum) alongside a programme of writing development and networking opportunities, peer support and guidance in use of the Library’s resources.  

During the year participants will get free access to the Library’s unique collection which includes over one million books and over 2,500 periodicals titles that can all be borrowed. Membership also includes access to extensive online resources and dedicated writing and research spaces in the Library’s extraordinary building in central London.

 The candidates were chosen from a field of over 800 applicants and joining Isabelle Dupuy on the judging panel were: Bidisha (broadcaster, writer and film maker); Eleanor Greene (Executive Producer, Drama at Wall to Wall Productions); Daniel Hahn (writer and translator); Victoria Hobbs (agent at AM Heath), Karen McCarthy Woolf (poet); Amy Rosenthal (playwright) and Anna Whitwham (novelist).

Sian Chaney-Price, a participant in the first year of the Emerging Writers Programme which has recently finished comments; “The Emerging Writer's Programme has helped me to find a writing community when working at home can sometimes be lonely and isolating. It gives me monthly motivation and support when I need it and it is exciting to be surrounded by such a range of writing and creative ideas. The writing history of the library and the wealth of resources are awe inspiring and could provide a writer with enough ideas to never suffer from writer's block. The year has flown by and none of us want to leave!”

The London Library Emerging Writers Programme is only possible because of the generous support The London Library has received from A M Heath Literary Agency, The Bryan Guinness Charitable Trust, Adam and Victoria Freudenheim, The Golden Bottle Trust, Max Hastings, the Julio and Maria Marta Núñez Memorial Fund, O J Colman - Charitable Trust and other anonymous donors. If you are interested in supporting the Emerging Writers Programme please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or donate online.

The 2021-2022 London Library Emerging Writers Programme will open for applications in January 2021 and applicants will have until March 2021 to submit their application. The programme will then run from 1 July 2021- 30 June 2022. To apply you will need to submit a short application form detailing your relationship to writing, why you would like membership of both the Library and the programme, a short description of the project you intend to work on throughout the year and a 1200 word sample of your work. Please sign up to our mailing list here for notifications about the programme and the application process.

Read more about the Emerging Writers Programme.

As we commemorate the legacy of Charles Dickens - who died 150 years ago on 9th June 1870 - we’ve been digging through the archives, finding some of the remarkable associations Dickens and his close circle had with the Library in its early years.

Dickens was a Founder Member of the Library - one of the 500 who in 1840 answered Thomas Carlyle’s call to help fund a lending library in the capital. By that time he was emerging as a major literary name, having written five bestsellers in book and serial form in the space of just four years - Sketches by Boz (1836), Pickwick Papers(1836-37), Oliver Twist (1837-39), Nicholas Nickleby (1838-39) and The Old Curiosity Shop (1840-41). His name appears on the  Committee running the Library between 1846-47 and he may well have been a full Committee member before that.

What may have spurred Dickens’ involvement in the early story of the Library is the fact that among the 528 Founder Members are some of his closest friends and associates, including perhaps the most important person in Dickens’ life - John Forster.

John Forster

Forster was Dickens’ lifelong friend, a major influence throughout his career and godparent to Dickens’s first daughter. He was also central to the Library’s foundation, devising and promoting the original subscription scheme and working tirelessly as one of the original Committee members running the Library when it was first established.

Forster’s literary importance was built on his role as Literary Editor (and subsequently Editor) at The Examiner. It was there, in 1835, when he first met Dickens (as serialisations of Sketches by Boz were beginning to appear) and he rapidly assumed the role of Dickens’ unofficial business manager, negotiating publishing contracts, advising on plots (the death of Little Nell was at his suggestion) and reading all Dickens’ proofs. In later years, Forster wrote a major biography of Dickens and claimed that, “There was nothing written by him... which I did not see before the world did, either in manuscript or proof”. 

William Macready

William Macready is another of Dickens’ close associates who joined the Library as a Founder Member. The 44 year old actor was first introduced to the 25 year old author in 1837 by John Forster after a theatre performance in Covent Garden. The pair became firm friends. Nicholas Nickleby (1838) was dedicated to Macready who became godparent to Dickens’ third child the following year. Macready then had a key role to play in the Dickens’ family in 1842, helping look after their three children when Dickens and his wife Catherine went on a gruelling six month tour of the USA.

George Cattermole

George Cattermole was the illustrator of The Old Curiosity Shop and Barnaby Rudge which were published in book form in 1841 and 1842 respectively. Cattermole worked closely with Dickens throughout 1840-41 when these works were being serialised in instalments in the Dickens publication Master Humphrey’s Clock. During that period Cattermole joined The London Library as a Founder Member.

Daniel Maclise

Painter Daniel Maclise also became a London Library Founder Member in 1840. He had been a firm friend of Dickens and Forster since the late 1830s and in 1839 painted one of the most famous of the known Dickens portraits (shown above) - commissioned by Chapman & Hall and exhibited to acclaim at the Royal Academy in 1840.

Thomas Carlyle

The Library’s founder Thomas Carlyle had made his name with the publication of The History of the French Revolution in 1837. Dickens first met Carlyle at a dinner given three years later, when Carlyle was first hatching his Library plans. The pair admired each others’ work and shared social circles, not least because Carlyle was also a close friend of John Forster. Dickens dedicated Hard Times (1854) to Carlyle and A Tale of Two Cities (1859) was inspired by Carlyle’s History of the French Revolution. Indeed, it was partly researched under Carlyle’s guidance - Carlyle personally selected a number of London Library books on the French Revolution and sent them over to Dickens’ house in a cart. It is very likely that several books we still have on our shelves - and which have been there since the day the Library first opened its doors - were among them. 

Thomas Talfourd MP

Dickens dedicated Pickwick Papers to Thomas Talfourd in 1837 having been introduced to the Liberal MP earlier that year by John Forster. Talfourd is another member of the Dickens/Forster circle who joined the Library as a Founder Member in 1840.

Edward Chapman and William Hall

From 1837, alongside his role as Literary Editor on The Examiner and Dickens’ unofficial business manager - John Forster also worked as chief literary adviser for publisher Chapman & Hall. Chapman and Hall had signed up Dickens for early sketches for Pickwick Papers the year before and would remain his publisher for over 20 years, publishing most of his works during that period. Edward Chapman and William Hall both joined The London Library as Founder Members in 1840.

Carlyle’s vision of a lending library in London came to fruition through the dedication and support of a group of figures whose early commitment helped the Library open its doors on 3rd May 1841. The list of those Founder Members shows that Charles Dickens and his most intimate circle - with John Forster at the centre of it - were a vital part of that story.

As we commemorate the legacy of Charles Dickens - who died 150 years ago on 9th June 1870 - we’ve been digging through the archives, finding some of the remarkable associations Dickens and his close circle had with the Library in its early years.

Dickens was a Founder Member of the Library - one of the 500 who in 1840 answered Thomas Carlyle’s call to help fund a lending library in the capital. By that time he was emerging as a major literary name, having written five bestsellers in book and serial form in the space of just four years - Sketches by Boz (1836), Pickwick Papers(1836-37), Oliver Twist (1837-39), Nicholas Nickleby (1838-39) and The Old Curiosity Shop (1840-41). His name appears on the  Committee running the Library between 1846-47 and he may well have been a full Committee member before that.

What may have spurred Dickens’ involvement in the early story of the Library is the fact that among the 528 Founder Members are some of his closest friends and associates, including perhaps the most important person in Dickens’ life - John Forster.

John Forster

Forster was Dickens’ lifelong friend, a major influence throughout his career and godparent to Dickens’s first daughter. He was also central to the Library’s foundation, devising and promoting the original subscription scheme and working tirelessly as one of the original Committee members running the Library when it was first established.

Forster’s literary importance was built on his role as Literary Editor (and subsequently Editor) at The Examiner. It was there, in 1835, when he first met Dickens (as serialisations of Sketches by Boz were beginning to appear) and he rapidly assumed the role of Dickens’ unofficial business manager, negotiating publishing contracts, advising on plots (the death of Little Nell was at his suggestion) and reading all Dickens’ proofs. In later years, Forster wrote a major biography of Dickens and claimed that, “There was nothing written by him... which I did not see before the world did, either in manuscript or proof”. 

William Macready

William Macready is another of Dickens’ close associates who joined the Library as a Founder Member. The 44 year old actor was first introduced to the 25 year old author in 1837 by John Forster after a theatre performance in Covent Garden. The pair became firm friends. Nicholas Nickleby (1838) was dedicated to Macready who became godparent to Dickens’ third child the following year. Macready then had a key role to play in the Dickens’ family in 1842, helping look after their three children when Dickens and his wife Catherine went on a gruelling six month tour of the USA.

George Cattermole

George Cattermole was the illustrator of The Old Curiosity Shop and Barnaby Rudge which were published in book form in 1841 and 1842 respectively. Cattermole worked closely with Dickens throughout 1840-41 when these works were being serialised in instalments in the Dickens publication Master Humphrey’s Clock. During that period Cattermole joined The London Library as a Founder Member.

Daniel Maclise

Painter Daniel Maclise also became a London Library Founder Member in 1840. He had been a firm friend of Dickens and Forster since the late 1830s and in 1839 painted one of the most famous of the known Dickens portraits (shown above) - commissioned by Chapman & Hall and exhibited to acclaim at the Royal Academy in 1840.

Thomas Carlyle

The Library’s founder Thomas Carlyle had made his name with the publication of The History of the French Revolution in 1837. Dickens first met Carlyle at a dinner given three years later, when Carlyle was first hatching his Library plans. The pair admired each others’ work and shared social circles, not least because Carlyle was also a close friend of John Forster. Dickens dedicated Hard Times (1854) to Carlyle and A Tale of Two Cities (1859) was inspired by Carlyle’s History of the French Revolution. Indeed, it was partly researched under Carlyle’s guidance - Carlyle personally selected a number of London Library books on the French Revolution and sent them over to Dickens’ house in a cart. It is very likely that several books we still have on our shelves - and which have been there since the day the Library first opened its doors - were among them. 

Thomas Talfourd MP

Dickens dedicated Pickwick Papers to Thomas Talfourd in 1837 having been introduced to the Liberal MP earlier that year by John Forster. Talfourd is another member of the Dickens/Forster circle who joined the Library as a Founder Member in 1840.

Edward Chapman and William Hall

From 1837, alongside his role as Literary Editor on The Examiner and Dickens’ unofficial business manager - John Forster also worked as chief literary adviser for publisher Chapman & Hall. Chapman and Hall had signed up Dickens for early sketches for Pickwick Papers the year before and would remain his publisher for over 20 years, publishing most of his works during that period. Edward Chapman and William Hall both joined The London Library as Founder Members in 1840.

Carlyle’s vision of a lending library in London came to fruition through the dedication and support of a group of figures whose early commitment helped the Library open its doors on 3rd May 1841. The list of those Founder Members shows that Charles Dickens and his most intimate circle - with John Forster at the centre of it - were a vital part of that story.

50 years since the death of E. M. Forster, one of our greatest novelists, we pay tribute to his ground-breaking literary output and his love for The London Library, of which he was a member for 64 years.

In these videos, novelist Abi Daré reads from Forster’s tribute to the Library on its centenary; publisher and Forster biographer Nicola Beauman celebrates Where Angels Fear to Tread as the first modern novel; journalist and historian Kavita Puri explores Forster’s insight into colonialism in A Passage to India; and novelist Philip Hensher discusses Maurice, Forster’s controversial depiction of homosexual life, which wasn’t published until after his death.

Edward Morgan Forster was a novelist, short story writer, essayist and librettist. His first novel was Where Angels Fear to Tread (1905). Three novels followed in short order - The Longest Journey (1907), A Room with a View (1908) and Howards End (1910), establishing Forster, still in his early thirties, as an author of international renown. His greatest success came with A Passage to India - the last novel he was to publish in his lifetime - which appeared in 1924. Maurice, was published posthumously in 1971. 

Joining the Library in 1906, he was one of the most important literary names of his day and was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature on no fewer than 16 occasions. His books have been adapted multiple times into films and television series to great success. He died on 7 June 1970, aged 91.


Abi Daré reads from E M Forster’s tribute to The London Library in the New Statesman and Nation (1941).

Abi Daré grew up in Lagos, Nigeria and has lived in the UK for eighteen years. Her debut novel, The Girl with the Louding Voice, won The Bath Novel Award for unpublished manuscripts, was a finalist in The Literary Consultancy Pen Factor competition in 2018 and has been shortlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize 2020. In 2019 she was selected for the London Library Emerging Writers Programme.

Read the full tribute here.

Buy Abi's book here

 

Nicola Beauman on Where Angels Fear to Tread (1905)

Nicola Beauman is the author of A Very Great Profession: The Woman’s Novel 1914-39Cynthia AsquithThe Other Elizabeth Taylor and Morgan: a biography of EM Forster in 1993. She is the founder and publisher of Persephone Books, which was set up to reprint (mostly) women writers, (mostly) of the inter-war period and now has over a hundred titles in print.


Kavita Puri on A Passage to India (1924)

Kavita Puri works in BBC Current Affairs and is an award-winning TV executive producer and radio broadcaster. Her critically acclaimed Radio 4 series, Three Pounds in My Pocket, charts the social history of British South Asians from the post-war years. Her recent book and Radio 4 documentary series Partition Voices is the history of the partition of India through the first hand testimonies of witnesses now living in Britain.

Buy Kavita's book here


Philip Hensher on Maurice (1971)

Philip Hensher is an award-winning novelist, journalist and Professor of Creative Writing at Bath Spa University. He edited The Penguin Book of British Short Story, Volumes 1 and 2 and his novels include The Mulberry Empire, The Northern Clemency, Scenes from Early Life, and A Small Revolution in Germany, which was published this year. He writes for the Independent, the Mail on Sunday and the Spectator, amongst other publications.

Buy Philip's book here

 

 

 

 

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