Sun, 30 Apr 2023 14:00 - 15:00

Lit Fest: Anthology; Encyclopaedia; Index - a cultural history of collation (In person & online)

We live in the Age of Google. But what did we do before all the information in the world was at our fingertips? How was information categorised and laid out? Who decided what we needed to know and how it should be conveyed, gathered and organised? And what do formulations of information tell us about the moments in which they were created? 

In The TreasuriesClare Bucknell investigates the history of poetry anthologies and their profound influence on society and culture, politics and national identity over the last 400 years; In Index, A History ofThe,  Dennis Duncan reveals the secret and surprising history of the book index and its vast role in our evolving literary and intellectual culture over eight hundred years; And in All The Knowledge in the World,Simon Garfield explores the history of the encyclopaedia and the culturally complex endeavour of trying to cram everything we know into a few heavy books. Within the reference-book-lined walls of The London Library Reading Room, all three authors speak to Rishi Dastidar, poet, anthologist and former dabbler in information design, about the complicated social and political history of collating ideas and information. 

In partnership with the Royal Society for Literature 

Clare Bucknell is a Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford. She is a regular contributor to the London Review of Books and also writes for the New Yorker, the New York Review of BooksWSJ Magazine and Apollo. She is the co-editor of Byron Among the English Poets and The Treasuries is her debut non-fiction book. 

Dennis Duncan is a writer, translator and lecturer in English at University College London. His academic books include Book Parts, The Oulipo and Modern Thought and translations of Michel Foucault, Boris Vian and Alfred Jarry. His writing has appeared in the Guardian, the TLS and the  London Review of Books including articles on Mallarmé and jugs, James Joyce and pornography and the history of Times New Roman. 

Simon Garfield is the author of an appealingly diverse and unpredictable canon of non-fiction, including the bestsellers Mauve,  Just My Type and On The Map. He is a trustee of Mass Observation and is the editor of several books of diaries from the archive, including Our Hidden Lives and A Notable WomanAll the Knowledge in the World: The Extraordinary History of the Encyclopaedia is his most recent book. 

Rishi Dastidar is a fellow of The Complete Works. His poetry collections are Ticker-tape - a poem from which was included in The Forward Book of Poetry 2018, Saffron Jack and Neptune’s Projects. He is a consulting editor at The Rialto magazine, the editor of The Craft: A Guide to Making Poetry Happen in the 21st Century and the co-editor of Too Young, Too Loud, Too Different: Poems from Malika’s Poetry Kitchen

The RSL, founded in 1820, is the UK’s charity for the advancement of literature, acting as a voice for the value of literature, engaging people in appreciating literature, and encouraging and honouring writers. 

Supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England and Fondation Jan Michalski

Books by all festival contributors are available to buy from our partner bookshop Hatchards.

N.B. This event will take place in person at The London Library and will be livestreamed. If you are joining us in person, please see our  Event Access and COVID Guidelines before you arrive. Doors (and the bar/cafe) will be open from 10.30am that day. The livestream will begin on YouTube from 2pm and will be available to watch live or at any time after the event, using the same link.  

If you purchase an online ticket, you will be sent a viewing link 24 hours before the event begins. If you do not receive a link, please check your junk mail or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. 

Access all Lit Fest events online with The London Library Lit Fest Online Pass. You may also be interested in Lit Fest: 5x15: Science & Miscellaneous (In person & online) (

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