Literary London: Must-see Talks, Events and Screenings

New books, talks, performances and cinema screenings. There are literary happenings galore this autumn and these are our top picks:

Lemn Sissay, Fatima Bhutto, Philippe Sands and more at London Literature Festival

London Literature Festival at the Southbank has a packed program of talks and events for readers and writers both. Our highlights include Lemn Sissay who will be reflecting on his new memoir, My Name Is Why on 18 October, tickets £15 here, Ayelet Gundar-Goshen in conversation about #MeToo and her new book Liar with author Devorah Baum, tickets £12 here and Fatima Bhutto on Bollywood, K-Pop and Beyond on 21 October, tickets £15 here. Fans of The Ratline podcast should also book East West Street: A Song of Good and Evil, a partly staged reading inspired by Philippe Sands’ bestseller about the Nuremberg trials. Narrated by German actress Katja Riemann and Philippe Sands there will be music from bass-baritone Laurent Naouri and renowned jazz pianist Guillaume de Chassy including Bach, Beethoven, Rachmaninov and Leonard Cohen. 21 October at 7.30pm, tickets £15- £25 here. London Literature Festival runs 17 – 27 October 2019 at the Southbank southbankcentre.co.uk

Bowie’s Books at The London Library

Before he died, David Bowie made a list of the one hundred books that had transformed his life. The titles included everything from Lady Chatterly’s Lover to the Beano, find the full list here. In Bowie’s Books, published by Bloomsbury and out on 14 November 2019, John O’Connell writes a short essay on each one forming a new kind of Bowie biography. Hear him talk at the London Library on 20 November, 7-8.30pm, tickets £15 londonlibrary.co.uk

Nicholas Coleridge on The Glossy Years at Daunt Books, Marylebone

Nicholas Coleridge is quite the raconteur. Hear him speaking about his new book, The Glossy Years that charts his thirty-year career at Condé Nast where he’s rubbed shoulders with everyone from Tina Brown and Anna Wintour to David Bowie, Kate Moss and Beyonce. Tickets include a 35-40 minute talk, plus a Q&A, a glass of wine and 20% off a signed copy of the book. 17 October, 7pm at Daunt’s Marylebone, tickets £10 dauntbooks.co.uk

Simon Russell Beale leads Shakespeare for Every Day of the Year at the National Theatre

Hear actors read extracts from Shakespeare as inspired by Allie Esiri’s latest seasonal anthology, Shakespeare for Every Day of the Year. Esiri always pulls in big names for her events – in the past these have included Joanna Lumley and Helena Bonham-Carter. Whilst actors are still under wraps for this event we can reveal that it will be led by Simon Russell Beale, the greatest Shakespearean actor of his generation. Very promising indeed. 11 November, 6pm, tickets £12 nationaltheatre.org.uk

Gwendoline Christie in A Midsummer Night’s Dream with NT Live

More Shakespeare, here in the form of the brilliant National Theatre Live. If you haven’t yet been to an NT Live we urge you to go – the filming of their stage shows for the screen is expertly done and includes short interviews with actors and directors too. From 17 October see Nicholas Hytner’s acclaimed production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream with Gwendoline Christie as Titania alongside Oliver Chris as Oberon. ‘The course of true love never did run smooth.’ Selected cinemas in London, ntlive.nationaltheatre.org.uk

Victoria and Albert: A Love of Literature at Windsor Castle

Discover the books that held particular significance for Victoria and Albert throughout their marriage in this special display at Windsor Castle. There are the bibles they were given on their wedding day through to the last book Queen Victoria read to Albert before he died. The curators will be on hand in the State Apartments and St George’s Chapel to bring the books to life throughout the day. 16 November, 10am-4.15pm, free with a ticket to the castle, no need to book ahead. rct.uk

Daisy Johnson and Julia Armfield at Pages Cheshire Street

If, like us, you were enthralled by Daisy Johnson’s novel, Everything Underyou’ll be interested in this talk at east London bookshop, Pages. Johnson, the youngest author ever to be shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize will be talking with writer and academic Octavia Bright about her novel alongside Julia Armfield who presents her first short story collection, Salt Slow. These stories centre around bodies and the bodily – teenagers develop ungodly appetites, a city becomes insomniac etc. 24 October, 7-9pm at Pages Cheshire Street, tickets £5 eventbrite.co.uk

Mademoiselle Chanel and her legendary library at The Connaught 

The Mayfair and St James’s Literary Festival 28 October – 3 November includes lots of interesting talks and events (full program here). Delve into the world of Coco Chanel with concert pianist and curator Mariana Haseldine and journalist Florence Walker. During the evening Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s private letters to the Russian Royal Princess, Natalia Paley, the Queen of style in Paris 1920s and the real life muse to Chanel, will be read along with the fragments from The Little Prince, which was inspired by Natalia, and their intriguing love story. 28 October, 6.30-9.30pm at The Connaught, tickets £27.54 eventbrite.co.uk

— Daisy Allsup
17th October 2019