Vital Discussions: Gwen Adshead and Val McDermid

Vital Discussions On Demand is a series of conversations created by the Royal Society for Literature.

Forensic psychotherapist Gwen Adshead and ‘the Queen of Crime’ Val McDermid have spent their careers exploring our interior worlds and the edges of society. Their conversation will span human cruelty, compassion, change and recovery, and how we find the words to describe the unspeakable parts of existence.

You can discover upcoming events from the RSL on their website here. You can also become a member of the RSL, offering the benefits and joys of a literary festival and book club, rolled into one, all year round. Purchase an RSL Digital Events Pass to access all RSL events for just £25 for a year.

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.

Alice Through the Looking Glass with Chris Riddell and Friends

Watch again now.
This event took place on: 4 July 2021.

Join illustrator Chris Riddell for a celebration of the classic book. This event is available to public library lovers and users through our partnership with the British Library.

Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There, appeared 150 years ago this year. Lewis Carroll’s fantastical book takes Alice off through the looking-glass on a second adventure, to a place even stranger than the Wonderland of her first.

Following on from his exquisite edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, one of our finest illustrators, Chris Riddell, has now brought Through the Looking Glass – and more of Lewis Carroll’s iconic characters – to vibrant, colourful life.

Join Chris and our actors for a celebration of this masterpiece of nonsense, with readings and live illustration.

Suitable for those aged 8 and above.

Buy a copy of Chris Riddell's Through the Looking Glass <a href="https://shop.bl.uk/collections/june-2021/products/through-the-looking-glass" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">here</a>

Watch our event celebrating the release of Chris Riddell's first edition - <a href="http://www.living-knowledge-network.co.uk/library/chris-riddells-alice-in-wonderland" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Chris Riddell's Alice in Wonderland</a>

You can browse the range of Alice in Wonderland products available on the British Library online shop <a href="https://shop.bl.uk/collections/alice-in-wonderland" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">here</a>

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