English and Drama blog

18 April 2012

Send in the Writers

Iain Sinclair, Jim Crace, Don Paterson, Stuart Maconie and Lauren Laverne (yay), Hanif Kureishi, Michael Rosen, Stella Duffy, Stewart Home (very Avant Bard), Colin McCabe and Tilda Swinton (assuming Jim Jarmusch lets her out on time)... and an event to mark (the first out of copyright??) Bloomsday. And lots more.

That’s the exciting line up for our events around Writing Britain - old friends of the Library, first-time appearances, something for everyone, all talking on the theme of space and place, all fabulous choices, and we’re pleased they are taking part.

For more information, see our press release; and there's also a special event with the Folio Society and the Telegraph: we’re hosting a free reader event on 21 May - I’m chairing a debate with Will Self and Craig Taylor on Landscape and Literature - and there’s entry to the exhibition and a glass of wine chucked in.

I did some initial recording for BBC R4’s Open Book today with Mariella Frostrup, and one of the questions she asked was about the inevitable effort of compression in any exhibition, but especially one that ranges as broadly as this.

As I told her, we’ve got 150 million items in the BL, and we’re displaying 150 of them in the exhibition - so whatever we choose will be partial, and it’s always subjective. And even for texts we’d like to include, there may not be an extant manuscript (or then again, it may be in Texas), or the printed book might not be especially visual .

But we shouldn’t just think of Writing Britain as being what’s in the cases in the exhibition. You can’t fit the whole of English Literature into our exhibition space (we tried), and nor can you fit every space and place in the British Isles.

And so the accompanying events, and other activities we’ll be announcing nearer the time, broaden the range of the exhibition, push some of its themes further than we can do in a gallery, and add to the debate and thinking that we hope Writing Britain will prompt.



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