This Autumn, The London Library will play host to an eclectic and thought-provoking programme of evening events which sees it partner with the Josephine Hart Poetry Foundation, Jewish Book Week and the Mayfair and St James’s Literary Festival, as well as continuing its partnership with The Bloomsbury Institute.

The mix of talks and performances from leading authors, thinkers and musicians including Max Hastings, Kavita Puri, Katherine Williams and Max Porter will take place in The London Library’s panelled and galleried Reading Room, with one event held at The Bloomsbury Institute’s HQ in Bedford Square.

Ticket prices vary from £6 - £20 and most events start at 18.45.

The London Library’s Autumn 2019 Events Programme:

Roger McNamee on Zucked: Waking Up to the Facebook Catastrophe, 18 September
A Silicon Valley investor for 35 years, Roger McNamee had early involvement in Facebook as a shareholder and a mentor to Mark Zuckerberg. In conversation with journalist Urmee Khan, he will discuss what he sees as the catastrophic failure of one of the world’s most powerful companies to face up to the damage its platform is doing to our democracy.

Kavita Puri on Partition Voices: Untold British Stories, 25 September
In partnership with The Bloomsbury Institute, award-winning BBC radio producer and broadcaster Kavita Puri will discuss her extraordinary new book, Partition Voices with Nikita Lalwani. Finally breaking the silence of the many people living in Britain, who witnessed the devastating events of Indian partition, Kavita Puri looks at the remarkable first-hand testimonies of South Asians, including her own father, who were once subjects of the British Raj, and are now British citizens.

Michael Peppiatt on The Existential Englishman: Paris Among the Artists, 15 October
In partnership with The Bloomsbury Institute, author Michael Peppiatt talks to Miranda France about his latest book which is a love letter to Paris and a memoir of a life spent at its bohemian heart. Please note that this event will be held at The Bloomsbury Institute’s headquarters on Bedford Square.

William Feaver on the Lives of Lucian Freud, 24 October
In partnership with Jewish Book Week and Insiders/Outsiders Festival, renowned art critic, William Feaver, discusses the first volume of his landmark new work of biography of one of the most important artists of the twentieth century.

The Josephine Hart Poetry Hour: Elizabeth Bishop & Christina Rossetti, 31 October
The work of Christina Rossetti (1830-1894) and Elizabeth Bishop (1911-1979), two of the finest poets of the 19th and 20th centuries will be brought to life on the 125th and 40th anniversaries of their respective deaths. Actors will perform work by each poet, including Rossetti’s astonishing and aptly spooky ‘Goblin Market’ in its entirety. Cast and directed by Shevaun Wilder in partnership with The Mayfair & St James’s Literary Festival. Please note this event will start at 18.30.

Max Hastings on Chastise: The Dambusters Story 1943, 13 November
In partnership with Jewish Book Week, Max Hastings discusses his latest book, a vivid account of Operation Chastise, the destruction of the Mohne and Eder dams in north-west Germany by the RAF’s 617 Squadron during the WW2 which was the inspiration behind the classic 1955 movie, The Dambusters. In the 21st century, Hastings urges that we should review this story in more complex detail, looking at the impact it had on the war effort, on the military personnel involved and on the local civilian population.

John O’Connell on Bowie’s Books, 20 November
Three years before he died, David Bowie made a list of the one hundred books that had transformed his life. Journalist John O'Connell explores this list in the form of one hundred short essays, each offering a perspective on the man, performer and creator that was Bowie, his work as an artist and the era that he lived in.

Oh Mother Where Art Thou?: An evening of music and poetry curated by Max Porter, 28 November
Award-winning novelist and poetry aficionado Max Porter curates and comperes this very special evening of poetry and music, exploring the theme of mothers – what it is to be one and what it is to have one. Performing their work will be a stellar line-up of contemporary poets: Emily Berry, Wayne Holloway-Smith, Rebecca Tamás and Mary-Jean Chan; with a live performance from the most literary of lyricists, Kathryn Williams.


Book Events Now


The London Library is proud to announce a new partnership with Jacaranda Book’s Twentyin2020 initiative for promoting Black British writing. Twentyin2020, launched by Jacaranda earlier this year, sees the UK publishing house exclusively dedicating a year of publishing output to 20 Black British writers, publishing new works from each of them during 2020. The project has won acclaim from across the publishing world and recently won the London Book Fair International Excellence Award 2019 for Inclusivity in Publishing.

Jacaranda has now teamed up with The London Library to announce a partnership that will provide a package of support for the 20 authors on the Twentyin2020 programme. The partnership was launched on 18th July at an evening event in the Library’s famous Reading Room, with industry leaders, influencers and press joining with the 2020 authors to celebrate this exciting new stage in the Twentyin2020 project.

About the Partnership

  • The London Library will be providing the Twentyin2020 authors with two years’ free membership to the Library. The authors will have full access to our extraordinary collection of 1 million books, and extensive online resources, as well as use of the Library’s unparalleled spaces – which have been an inspiration for writers for nearly 200 years.
  • The Library will also be looking to incorporate the Twentyin2020 initiative into its popular events programme, providing a high profile platform for Twentyin2020 authors and ambassadors at speaker events.

Philip Marshall, Director of The London Library commented, “From the moment we heard about the Twentyin2020 project we knew this was an initiative we wanted to be involved in. The London Library is a centre for literary creativity and we are delighted to be supporting a programme that is doing so much to help black British writers get greater publishing recognition.”

During 2020, Jacaranda will publish the following books by the authors who are part of the Twentyin2020 project:


The Long Way Home by DD Armstrong

Bad Love by Maame Blue

Looking for Bono by Abidemi Sanusi

If I Don’t Have You by Sareeta Domingo

The Street Hawker’s Apprentice by Kabir Kareem-Bello

Love Again by Rasheda Ashanti Malcolm

Deadly Sacrifice by Stella Ahmadu 

Under Solomon Skies by Berni Sorga-Millwood

Dating in the 21st Century by Lisa Bent

Lote by Shola von Rheinhold 


Through the Leopard’s Gaze by Njambi McGrath

The Space Between Black and White by Esuantsiwa Jane Goldsmith

A Circle of Five by Harris Joshua

Are We Home Yet? by Kate Massey

Black History Walks by Tony Warner 


Locating Strong Woman by Tolu Agbelusi

Untitled by Hibaq Osman

Jamakspeare by Brenda Garrick

The First Collection by Sarah Lipton-Sidibeh

On Reflection by Adjoa Wiredu

In between working away at The London Library, members of the Library team have come up with some of their own recommendations for books they have particularly enjoyed for a well-earned summer break.

And we’ve also been looking at summers past – mining the borrowing records to compile the list of July and August’s 20 most borrowed books (Fiction and non-Fiction) over the past ten years.

Staff Picks

The Light of Day by Eric Ambler

“With the opening line of: “It came down to this: if I had not been arrested by the Turkish police, I would have been arrested by the Greek police”, the tone is pretty much set for the rest of the story which follows the trouble which the protagonist gets himself into throughout.  Thoroughly enjoyable, page-turning summer read, taking the reader on a journey through the murky Europe of times past.” - Kate M.

The Cicero Trilogy by Robert Harris

The three books Imperium, Lustrum and Dictator document the fall of the Republic and the rise of Augustus as told from the point of view of Tiro, Cicero's slave and personal assistant. Harris's magnum opus is incredibly well researched and brings ancient Italy and all its characters vividly back to life. A great read for long sunny days. Anyone with even a passing interest in ancient Rome will find these books hard to put down.” - Pete B

The Sound of the Mountain – Yasunari Kawabata, trans. Edward Seidensticker

“The head of an ambiguous business in which son Shuichi is also employed, Shingo observes the dissolution of his children’s marriages through the early signs of dementia. As Schuichi conducts a seedy affair, Shingo is unsettled by ominous premonitions and an increasing guilt that his family’s strife is rooted in his failure to act and in the original sin of his marriage to Yasuko. The malaise and generational rifts of post-war Japan are rendered here in sweat, tears and sin; even what appear as resolutions to Shingo’s crisis betray only ever widening cracks.” - James D.

Shadowplay by Joseph O'Connor

“This wonderful piece of 19th century literary gothic focuses on the relationships between Bram Stoker,  actor-impressario Henry Irving and leading lady Ellen Terry. Stoker was manager of the Lyceum theatre for more than two decades and his tumultuous relationship with the appalling, charismatic Irving is here the inspiration for Count Dracula.” - Kay S.

Mr Loverman by Bernardine Evaristo

“This is the story of Barrington, a septuagenarian loveable rogue, Caribbean-born, resident of Stoke Newington for fifty years, and of his long-suffering, devout Christian wife Carmel. Their family life is about to implode as he decides to start a new life with his best friend and gay lover of sixty years. Mr Loverman provides a voice for an older generation of gay men of Caribbean descent, exploring themes of sexuality and family relationships with sensitivity and poignancy. It is a seriously funny, riotous and joyous read that will have you cheering for both Barrington and Carmel. - Sam G.

Black Car Burning by Helen Mort. 

Black Car burning is poet Helen Mort’s debut novel and it’s about rock climbing, Hillsborough, Sheffield, racial tension and relationships between friends, families and partners, both romantically and when climbing. (Helen Mort is a climber herself and ‘Black Car Burning’ is the name of a route at Stanage Edge in the Peak District.). I really liked the way the author gave us an insight in to what was happening from the perspective of the rocks and buildings in the area. - Ros D

To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

“Inspired by Woolf's childhood family summers in Cornwall, this is both wistful evocation of a lost time and modernist tour de force. I was electrified by this book when I first read it aged 18; it's intense, intimate focus and shifting points of view still feel fresh, audacious and utterly unique. - Kay S

Child of Fortune by Yuko Tsushima, trans. Geraldine Harcourt

“The arrival of an unexpected pregnancy causes single mother Koko to slip further adrift into a world of memory and dream, where she struggles to keep hold of her own identity and reach out to an increasingly independent daughter. Wonderfully translated by the late Geraldine Harcourt, the miracle of Tsushima’s writing is to communicate the collapsing of an outward reality as Koko begins to fall in on herself. - James D.

The Enchanted April by Elizabeth Von Arnim

“This feelgood classic from the 1920s follows four disparate, desperate women who club together for a month's holiday at an Italian villa and get more summer magic than they bargained for. This lovely book is light as a soufflé but packs emotional punch enough to stand out from the chicklit crowd.”  - Kay S

Cruising the Movies: a sexual guide to oldies on TV by Boyd MacDonald

“For a few years in the mid-eighties Boyd MacDonald, the editor of gay zine Straight to Hell, wrote a regular film column in which, rather than review new releases, he would write fetishistic analyses of the old films aired on early morning tv; focusing more on the sexual energies of the golden age stars than the films themselves, they are perhaps the purest expression of the thrill and perversity of movie watching. Topics include: the beauty of Richard Widmark, the effortless cool of Gloria Grahame and the transfixing strangeness of Ronald Reagan’s legs.” - James D.

See July and August’s 20 most borrowed books

We’re delighted to welcome artists Bob Matthews and Mark Harris who have begun a 12-month Artists' Residency at The London Library drawing on their wide knowledge and specialism of the processes of print production and the history of the printed image. Mark is Associate Professor of Fine Art at Kingston University and has exhibited widely, both nationally and internationally; Bob, an artist and exhibition organizer, has taught on the MA print course at the Royal College of Art since 2002.

From June 2019, six of their works will be displayed on the green stairs between the Reading Room and the 6th floor Members' Suite. They comprise three paintings by Bob Matthews and three collages by Mark Harris, incorporating different treatment of a range of found materials and real life objects, including images from books discarded from other libraries. Temporary displays of other new artworks will appear in different areas of the Library in coming months. All have been created and displayed free of charge to the Library and once in place, the new works will mean that there will be even more to discover and explore as members use the Library and browse the shelves.

Their Residency runs until spring 2020 and intends to approach the London Library collection through a purely visual lens, developing ideas and work inspired by the wealth of images buried within the pages, books and various sections of the Library. The residency aims to act as a bridge to create stronger links between The London Library and the contemporary art world and to reflect the Library’s links with many significant artists who have been associated with the Library’s past. It forms the first stage of a larger project for Bob and Mark that re-imagines the notion, purpose and form of libraries generally.