The London Library has teamed up with leading creative media agency Cultureshock to launch an exciting new format for the Library’s membership magazine. Appearing three times a year, the magazine is distributed to Library members who include some of the world’s best-known writers and creative figures.

Each issue is focused on interviews with prominent Library members and looks at their work and how the Library and its astonishing collection of one million books have informed it. The launch issue published in March 2020 contains an in-depth interview with Bill Bryson, a longstanding Library member, whose recent book The Body was largely written here and drew heavily on the Library’s collection. Bill discusses his research, his favourite working spaces and why he finds the Library so special. “This Library”, he says, “is so perfect. It’s got something of everything”. 

Alongside interviews with leading author Giles Milton, plus scriptwriter Jonathan Holloway and theatre producer Natasha Rickman (who together worked on Creation Theatre’s recent stage production of The Time Machine in the Library), the magazine also explores the richness of the collection and the range of events and activities taking place here. And there’s news of the very recent discovery that Mark Twain joined the Library shortly after his arrival in London in 1896.

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The magazine’s contemporary design draws on the iconography visible across the Library’s extraordinary building and across its huge collection of books which is arranged on 17 miles of open access shelves and is almost all available for borrowing.

Patrick Kelly, Managing Director at Cultureshock commented, “Cultureshock is delighted to be working with The London Library on the new member magazine. It's exciting working on a project in a way that will appeal to a wide range of readers and showcase the many fascinating aspects of the world’s largest independent lending library." 

Philip Marshall concluded: “The London Library is here to inspire and support readers and writers of all kinds and we are delighted to celebrate that in our new magazine by sharing stories of the wonderfully creative ways in which the Library is used. The magazine will also support the tremendous sense of community that exists amongst our members, and is especially important as a way of staying in touch during these difficult times. We hope the fresh new design and rich content will be bring some welcome enjoyment to all our readers.”

READ THE MAGAZINE

In episode 5 of The London Library Podcast, we are joined by Valerie Brandes, the founder and publisher of diversity-focused, independent publishing house Jacaranda Books.

Valerie talks about identity, motherhood and the books that have shaped her life and career - from moving to America, then back to Hackney and setting up her own publishing business. As well as Jacaranda's Twentyin2020 initiative, which The London Library is currently supporting, promoting Black British writing through exclusively dedicating a year of publishing output to 20 Black British writers.

The London Library Podcast launched on 18 November 2019 and features a leading writer or figure in the cultural world discussing the books which have shaped them.  Each month the guest is in conversation with The London Library’s Director, Philip Marshall and delves into the Library’s archive and collection to uncover treasured books and nuggets of historical detail about the guest’s book choices.

The Podcast is a celebration of books and the ideas they inspire and a personal love letter from each guest to the books that have been most influential to them.

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The fourth episode of The London Library Podcast is now live. This month we're delighted to be joined Ahsan Akbar - a London Library member, poet, co-founder of the Dhaka Literary Festival and owner of Teatulia tea shop and bar in Covent Garden.

In conversation with The London Library’s Director, Philip Marshall, Ahsan discusses the books that have shaped his life, including The Buddha of Suburbia by Hanif Kureishi; A Bend in the River by V S Naipaul; Money by Martin Amis; Virginia Woolf's Orlando and Reunion by Fred Uhlman.

The London Library Podcast launched on 18 November 2019 and features a leading writer or figure in the cultural world discussing the books which have shaped them. Each month the guest is in conversation with The London Library’s Director, Philip Marshall and will delve into the Library’s archive and collection to uncover treasured books and nuggets of historical detail about the guest’s book choices.

The London Library Podcast is a celebration of books and the ideas they inspire and a personal love letter from each guest to the books that have been most influential to them.

LISTEN NOW

As we gear up for the first performance of Creation Theatre’s The Time Machine on 29th February, we’ve been exploring our membership records to unearth some of the many links HG Wells had with the Library during his 50-year membership.

Wells joined the Library on 9th April 1896 a year after his first novel The Time Machine had been serialised in the New Review and then published in book form to international acclaim.

It was an extraordinarily productive period in his life – he’d already largely written the Invisible Man and his third novel The Island of Dr Moreau appeared in the same month he became a Library member.

Many of Wells' contacts from that time became Library members. In September 1896, WE Henley Editor of the New Review and the man responsible for serialising the Time Machine joined the Library. Wells had dedicated The Time Machine to him and he became a regular at Wells’ social gatherings.

In the same year, Wells also began correspondence with the emerging novelist Joseph Conrad. Conrad joined the Library in 1897 and along with novelist Henry James the trio become regular visitors to their respective Kentish seaside homes.

In 1902 we see Lewis Hind joining the Library. As editor of The Pall Mall Budget he had given Wells his first big break, publishing 36 of his short stories in 1894. Also in 1902 Wells nominated Sidney Bowkett as a Library member. Bowkett was his great school friend from the age of eight – the pair lost touch but met up by accident in 1898 and their friendship resumed.

One of the most striking membership records is that of Cicily Fairfield, who under the pen name Rebecca West went on to become a highly celebrated writer, a Dame and a Library vice-president, remaining a Library member until her death in 1983.

Wells met the 20-year-old Fairfield in 1912 after the pair agreed to have lunch following her dismissive review of one of his articles. The following year they begin a relationship and by November 1913 Fairfield was pregnant and the couple were talking of living together under assumed names. (Their son, Anthony West was born in August 1914).

Rebecca West joined the Library in January 1914 – her application form is seconded by HG Wells.

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