London Library events

Watch videos from public talks that have taken place at The London Library, as well as from our new online event series.

I Couldn't Love You More: Esther Freud with Jane Feaver (live online event)

In her ninth ‘devastating’ novel, I Couldn’t Love You More, Esther Freud explores her own family history to tell the multigenerational story of three women.

Benin City Burning (live online event)

Poet Inua Ellams, who hails from Benin City in Nigeria, will read his poem sequence Fuck/Empire about a tusk now housed at the Manchester Museum. He is joined by Nigerian artist Victor Ehikhamenor, Pitt Rivers Museum Curator and author of The Brutish Museums Dan Hicks and Manchester Museum Director Esme Ward in conversation with writer and broadcaster Afua Hirsch to discuss the history, the legacy and the thorny issue of restitution.

Dostoevsky in Love (live online event)

Alex Christofi discusses his new book, Dostoevsky in Love, in conversation with Chris Power. Researched using The London Library’s unique collection, the book weaves excerpts of the author’s work with the historical context to create an immersive, novelistic portrait of the artist as never seen before.

Dog's Best Friend with Simon Garfield and Lissa Evans (live online event)

Simon Garfield discusses his funny, wise and fascinating new book, exploring one of the world’s most successful and enduring relationships: human and dog.

Sathnam Sanghera and Samira Ahmed - Empireland (live online event)

Sathnam Sanghera’s brilliantly illuminating new book, Empireland, looks at how profoundly our imperial past has shaped modern Britain: from how we live to how we think, from the foundation of the NHS to the nature of our racism, from our distrust of intellectuals in public life to the exceptionalism that imbued the campaign for Brexit and the government's early response to the Covid crisis.

Aid and Expectations (live online event)

In conversation with Valerie Brandes, Kabir Kareem-Bello and Abidemi Sanusi, two of Jacaranda Books’ #TwentyIn2020 authors, discuss their searing new novels.

The Women Who Spied (live online event)

What did it take to be a woman at the heart of the war effort? Award-winning biographers Clare Mulley and Sonia Purnell discuss the remarkable subjects of their recent books, whose extraordinary courage and actions during World War II made an invaluable contribution to the Allies’ success.

New Daughters of Africa (live online event)

The landmark anthology New Daughters of Africa celebrates the work of 200 women writers of African descent and charts a literary landscape as never before.

Sudhir Hazareesingh & Isabelle Dupuy - Black Spartacus (live online event)

Sudhir Hazareesingh speaks to Isabelle Dupuy about his essential new biography of the great slave leader, military genius and revolutionary hero Toussaint Louverture.

Sylvia Pankhurst- Natural Born Rebel with Rachel Holmes & Bidisha (live online event)

In conversation with Bidisha, acclaimed biographer, Rachel Holmes discusses her major new work on Sylvia Pankhurst, human rights champion, radical feminist and political rebel.

The Pink Line: The World’s Queer Frontiers (live online event)

Joining us from Cape Town, journalist, filmmaker, curator and activist Mark Gevisser speaks to Ellah P Wakatama about The Pink Line, his groundbreaking new work exploring how issues of sexuality and gender identity divide and unite the world today.

Jacaranda Poetry Showcase (live online event)

Tolu Agbelusi and Hibaq Osman, two of Jacaranda Books’ #TwentyIn2020 poets, read from and discuss their stunning new debut collections.

Hisham Matar and Laura Cumming on The Sanctuary of Art (live online event)

In conversation, these two acclaimed writers contemplate the relationship between art and the human condition; discussing how art has offered them sanctuary and solace and helped them make sense of their lives, their losses and their extraordinary family histories.

Circles and Squares: The Lives and Art of the Hampstead Modernists (live online event)

Hampstead in the 1930s. Barbara Hepworth and Ben Nicholson have embarked on a love affair which will go on to launch an era-defining art movement. Circles and Squares chronicles the exhilarating rise and fall of British Modernism, capturing the inner circle drawn into Hepworth and Nicholson’s wake. Author Caroline Maclean in conversation with Lara Feigel.


Love and Other Complications (live online event)

Maame Blue and Sareeta Domingo discuss their stunning new novels, investigations of modern love and all its complexities. Maame Blue's Bad Love is the story of London born Ghanaian Ekuah Danquah and her tumultuous experience with first love. Sareeta Domingo’s If I Don’t Have You is the story of Afro-Brazilian filmmaker Ren and Black British artist Kayla as they navigate their attraction to each other, alongside their carefully constructed lives and the secrets that lurk between them.

Standing Up & Finding a Voice with Esuantsiwa Jane Goldsmith and Njambi McGrath (live online event)

Esuantsiwa Jane Goldsmith and Njambi McGrath, two of Jacaranda Books’ #TwentyIn2020 authors, discuss their astonishing new memoirs, tales of identity, courage, speaking up and speaking out.

Invisible Music: Angela Carter's Folk Song Influences with Polly Paulusma (live online event)

Acclaimed English songwriter Polly Paulusma presents a taster of her latest album, Invisible Music, which celebrates musicality in the prose of Angela Carter, one of the twentieth century’s finest novelists and a former member of The London Library.

On what would have been Carter’s 80th birthday, Paulusma illustrates through readings and performance how Carter – herself a folk singer during the 1960s folk revival - absorbed the themes, images and rhythms of folk song into her remarkable prose. Readings will be by singer songwriter Kathryn Williams and author Kirsty Logan. 

Undocumented (live online event)

Kamila Shamsie speaks to authors Nikita Lalwani and Abi Daré about their stunning new novels, telling the stories we never hear about the people we never see.

Lalwani’s, You People, is set in a London pizzeria staffed by illegal Sri Lankan immigrants and presided over by the mysterious Tuli, a resident Robin Hood, who promises to help anyone in need. Daré’s The Girl with the Louding Voice is the story of Adunni, a young Nigerian woman sold into domestic servitude but determined to find her voice.

Asking difficult moral questions, these novels cast their light on the people who live in the shadows: the asylum seekers and illegal immigrants, the enslaved, the disenfranchised and the undocumented, who silently and thanklessly underpin economies and maintain lifestyles from London to Lagos and everywhere in between.

The Ratline: On the Trail of a Nazi Fugitive. Philippe Sands live online Q&A

Philippe Sands, award-winning author of the bestselling East West Street, introduces his remarkable new book in a very special live Q&A presented by The London Library in partnership with Jewish Book Week.

The Ratline is the story of Otto von Wächter and his wife Charlotte. As Nazi Governor of Galicia, he presided over a territory in which hundreds of thousands of Jews and Poles were killed. Indicted for 'mass murder' at the end of the war and hunted by multiple international agencies, Wächter went into hiding, helped by his wife, first in the Austrian Alps and then in Rome, where a Vatican bishop gave him refuge. But, just before he could take ‘the ratline’ to Argentina, he unexpectedly died.

Oh Mother Where Art Thou?: An evening of music and poetry

Award-winning novelist and poetry aficionado Max Porter curated and compered this very special evening of poetry and music, exploring the ever-rich thematic territory of mothers – what it is to be one and what it is to have one.

A stellar line-up of contemporary poets performed their work- Emily Berry, Wayne Holloway-Smith, Rebecca Tamás and Mary-Jean Chan; with music from the most literary of lyricists, Kathryn Williams.


The Art of Persuasion: Benet Brandreth on Rhetoric

In this entertaining hour, expert Benet Brandreth QC introduces us to the fundamentals of classical rhetoric and shows us how the techniques of Cicero and Shakespeare are still being put into practice by modern politicians the world over.


Michael Billington: The End of Theatre Censorship

Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Theatres Act 1968 Michael Billington will chair a panel of experts looking at the history of theatre censorship dating back to the Licensing Act 1737 and debating different types of censorship that exist in theatre today.

Mohammed Hanif: Red Birds

Dubbed ‘Pakistan’s brightest voice’, bestselling prize-winning author, Mohammed Hanif, discusses “Red Birds” - his powerful novel about war, family and love.

Agnes Poirier: Left Bank Art, Passion and the Rebirth of Paris, 1940

In conversation with Michael Goldfarb, Agnès Poirier paints a captivating portrait of those who lived, loved, fought, played and flourished in Paris between 1940 and 1950 and whose intellectual and artistic output still influences us today.

Benedict Allen at The London Library

Benedict Allen, writer, traveller and adventurer, talks about his work, his creative processes and the way that he uses The London Library for research and writing.  


Jhumpa Lahiri in conversation with Adam Thirlwell 

As Penguin publishes its new collection of Italian short stories, we are joined by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jhumpa Lahiri, who curated the collection and has translated a number of stories within it.

In conversation with Adam Thirlwell, she discusses Italian literature, the process of translation, her own award-winning novels and the experience of working across multiple languages and cultures. In partnership with the Italian Cultural Institute.

Rise Up Women! The Remarkable Lives of the Suffragettes

With Diane Atkinson

Marking the centenary of female suffrage, Diane Atkinson discusses her definitive history charting women's fight for the vote through the lives of those who took part.

Dunkirk - The History Behind the Motion Picture

With Joshua Levine

Historian Joshua Levine - author of the bestselling history of Dunkirk and historical advisor to the motion picture - joined us on 26th April for a fascinating talk where he revealed the real life story of one of wartime's most extraordinary operations.

The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper with Hallie Rubenhold

In conversation with Sarah Savitt, historian Hallie Rubenhold discusses her new book, the first full-length biography to explore and contextualise the lives of the women killed by Jack the Ripper. Offering new insights and drawing on previously unseen or unpublished material, The Five promises to completely change the narrative of the Ripper murders. 

Tim Bouverie: On Appeasement

Writer and broadcaster Tim Bouverie discusses his new book, Appeasing Hitler, a compelling new narrative history of the disastrous years of indecision, failed diplomacy and parliamentary infighting that enabled Nazi domination of Europe.

Churchill's Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare

With Giles Milton

In this hugely entertaining and informative talk held at The London Library on 15th March 2018, historian Giles Milton - author of the best-selling book "Churchill's Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare" - reveals the secrets of Winston Churchill's inner circle of sabotage experts who planned some of the most audacious attacks of the Second World War.

Mary Shelley and the Birth of Frankenstein

With Miranda Seymour

Mary Shelley’s great novel “Frankenstein: or the Modern Prometheus” was first published 200 years ago in January 1818. 

To help celebrate this landmark anniversary, we were delighted to host Miranda Seymour - author of the definitive Mary Shelley biography - who in a fascinating talk explored the writing of the novel and the intricacies of Shelley’s life. With readings from actor Isobel Laidler the evening (taking place on 25th January 2018) shone a light on the personality behind one of literature’s great classics.