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We bring world-class speakers, emerging voices and inspirational debate to public libraries and the people who use them. We livestream compelling cultural events with libraries across the UK, so you can get a front-row seat for free no matter where you live. Explore the website to watch our previous events and discover what we have coming up.

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British Identity in 50 Documents with Dominic Selwood

Join us here live: Thursday 11 November, 19:30 - 20:30. Join historian Dominic Selwood for a vivid exploration of how treasures from the British Library’s collection reveal the changing identities of Britain. In this colourful talk — based on his new book Anatomy of a Nation: A History of British Identity in 50 Documents — Dominic Selwood delves into a kaleidoscope of documents from the British Library’s unique collection to assemble the story of how Britain evolved through the classical and medieval worlds to the modern day. Some documents are familiar, like the mesmerizing musical rhythms of Beowulf, the jewel of Anglo-Saxon poetry that survives in just one slightly burned copy. Others are less so, including the irate bull of Pope Innocent III excommunicating anyone who obeyed Magna Carta for the sin of rising against an anointed king. Some are more personal and subtle, like the first Valentine’s letter, sent in 1477 by an amorous Norfolk woman anxious at her modest dowry. While others speak to the nation, like Vaughan Williams’s 1921 score of The Lark Ascending, a visceral reaction to his experiences in the trenches of World War One, and now a forlorn reminder of the carnage later generations have inflicted on the countryside’s once musical and colourful biodiversity. Weaving these evocative documents together, Dominic uncovers a Britain we have never seen before. People are at the heart of the story: a female charioteer queen from Wetwang, a plague surviving graffiti artist, a drunken Bible translator, outlandish Restoration rakehells, canting criminals, the eccentric fathers of modern typography and the bankers who caused the finance crisis.

PEN Pinter Prize 2021: Tsitsi Dangarembga

Join us here live: Mon 11 Oct 2021, 19:30 - 20:30 Zimbabwean novelist, playwright, and filmmaker Tsitsi Dangarembga receives the prestigious 2021 PEN Pinter Prize and delivers her keynote address at a ceremony hosted by British Library and English PEN. This event is available to the audiences and users of public libraries through the Living Knowledge Network. Watch last year's PEN Pinter Prize ceremony awarding Linton Kwesi Johnson <a href="http://living-knowledge-network.co.uk/library/pen-pinter-prize-linton-kwesi-johnson" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">here</a>. The PEN Pinter Prize was established in 2009 by the charity English PEN, which defends freedom of expression and celebrates literature. In memory of Nobel-Laureate playwright Harold Pinter, the prize is awarded annually to a writer of outstanding literary merit resident in the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, the Commonwealth or former Commonwealth, who, in the words of Harold Pinter’s Nobel Prize in Literature speech, casts an ‘unflinching, unswerving’ gaze upon the world and shows a ‘fierce intellectual determination... to define the real truth of our lives and our societies’. Tsitsi Dangarembga was chosen by this year’s judges: The Guardian’s Associate Editor for Culture Claire Armitstead; literary critic and Editor-at-large for Canongate, Ellah P Wakatama, and poet Andrew McMillan. The prize will be shared with an International Writer of Courage: a writer who is active in defence of freedom of expression, often at great risk to their own safety and liberty. The co-winner, selected by Tsitsi Dangarembga from a shortlist of international cases supported by English PEN, is announced at the event. This year's award ceremony is part of Common Currency, a year-long celebration of freedom of expression, creative campaigning, and the best literature the world has to offer to mark English PEN's centenary year. For more information visit: englishpen.org/commoncurrency The PEN Pinter Prize is supported by the generosity of Ruth Maxted and The Blavatnik Family Foundation.

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