Category Archives: LBC Reference

Upcoming book clubs

We have our next few months choices in, taking us up to the end of the year…if you can believe it. I think I’m in denial. It’s really like…May?

Anyway, for your reading pleasure!

LBC 3 Reads (#LBC3Reads)

  • 21st October – Matilda by Roald Dahl
  • 20th January – TBA

LBC Horsforth (#LBCHorsforth)

  • 11th October – Lincoln in the Bardo – George Saunders
  • 8th November – Autumn – Ali Smith
  • 10th January – TBA

LBC White Swan (#LBCWSwan)

  • 12th November – The Fishermen – Chigozie Obioma
  • 14th January – TBA


LISTEN TO – The Reith Lectures – Hilary Mantel

Just sat in the car for ten minutes to the last moments of the forth of Hilary Mantel’s Reith Lectures on BBC Radio 4 – I didn’t want to lose a word, while relocating! Don’t know how I’ve missed the previous three – clearly I’m very successfully sleep walking through life right now – but really looking forward to a catch up!

Mandatory Credit: Photo by SUTTON-HIBBERT/REX (424360ae)

Now, I don’t always ‘get’ Hilary Mantel, but after a rough start with Wolf Hall (see HERE and HERE) but had a much happier time with its follow up ‘Bring up the Bodies’. However, she is always an unusual and spirited speaker and I very much enjoyed listening to how she viewed her world as an author (and NOT a historian!).

For your convenience, links to the 4 parts that have currently aired are below.

From the BBC website:

Over this series of five lectures, Dame Hilary discusses the role that history plays in our culture. How can we understand the past, she asks, and how can we convey its nature today? Above all, she believes, we must all try to respect the past amid all its strangeness and complexity.

This series is chaired by Sue Lawley. The producer is Jim Frank.

Part 1 – The Day Is for the Living

Art can bring the dead back to life, argues the best-selling novelist Hilary Mantel, starting with the story of her own great-grandmother. “We sense the dead have a vital force still,” she says. “They have something to tell us, something we need to understand. Using fiction and drama, we try to gain that understanding.” She describes how and why she began to write fiction about the past, and how her view of her trade has evolved. We cannot hear or see the past, she says, but “we can listen and look”.

Click here to have a listen on the BBC website 

Part 2 – The Iron Maiden

How do we construct our pictures of the past, including both truth and myth, asks best-selling author Hilary Mantel. Where do we get our evidence? She warns of two familiar errors: either romanticising thepast, or seeing it as a gory horror-show. It is tempting, but often condescending, to seek modern parallels for historical events. “Are we looking into the past, or looking into a mirror?” she asks. “Dead strangers…did not live and die so we could draw lessons from them.” Above all, she says, we must all try to respect the past amid all its strangeness and complexity.

Click here to have a listen on the BBC website 

Part 3 – Silence Grips the Town

The story of how an obsessive relationship with history killed the young Polish writer Stanislawa Przybyszewska, told by best-selling author, Hilary Mantel. The brilliant Przybyszewska wrote gargantuan plays and novels about the French Revolution, in particular about the revolutionary leader Robespierre. She lived in self-willed poverty and isolation and died unknown in 1934. But her work, so painfully achieved, did survive her. Was her sacrifice worthwhile? “She embodied the past until her body ceased to be,” Dame Hilary says. “Multiple causes of death were recorded, but actually she died of Robespierre.”

Click here to have a listen on the BBC website 

Part 4 – Can These Bones Live?

Hilary Mantel analyses how historical fiction can make the past come to life. She says her task is to take history out of the archive and relocate it in a body. “It’s the novelist’s job: to put the reader in the moment, even if the moment is 500 years ago.” She takes apart the practical job of “resurrection”, and the process that gets historical fiction on to the page. “The historian will always wonder why you left certain things out, while the literary critic will wonder why you left them in,” she says. How then does she try and get the balance right?

Click here to have a listen on the BBC website 

Part 5 – Adaptation

Hilary Mantel on how fiction changes when adapted for stage or screen. Each medium, she says, draws a different potential from the original. She argues that fiction, if written well, doesn’t betray history, butenhances it. When fiction is turned into theatre, or into a film or TV, the same applies – as long as we understand that adaptation is not a secondary process or a set of grudging compromises, but an act of creation in itself. And this matters. “Without art, what have you to inform you about the past?” she asks. “What lies beyond is the unedited flicker of closed-circuit TV.”

This episode hasn’t yet aired.

Check out the trailer for the excellent BBC series Wolf Hall – based on the first of Hilary Mantel’s Tudor trilogy.

The Gift of the Magi – O. Henry

The Gift of the Magi
O Henry
One dollar and eighty-seven cents. That was all. And sixty cents of it was in pennies. Pennies saved one and two at a time by bulldozing the grocer and the vegetable man and the butcher until one’s cheeks burned with the silent imputation of parsimony that such close dealing implied. Three times Della counted it. One dollar and eighty-seven cents. And the next day would be Christmas.
There was clearly nothing to do but flop down on the shabby little couch and howl. So Della did it. Which instigates the moral reflection that life is made up of sobs, sniffles, and smiles, with sniffles predominating.
While the mistress of the home is gradually subsiding from the first stage to the second, take a look at the home. A furnished flat at $8 per week. It did not exactly beggar description, but it certainly had that word on the lookout for the mendicancy squad.
In the vestibule below was a letter-box into which no letter would go, and an electric button from which no mortal finger could coax a ring. Also appertaining thereunto was a card bearing the name “Mr. James Dillingham Young.”
The “Dillingham” had been flung to the breeze during a former period of prosperity when its possessor was being paid $30 per week. Now, when the income was shrunk to $20, though, they were thinking seriously of contracting to a modest and unassuming D. But whenever Mr. James Dillingham Young came home and reached his flat above he was called “Jim” and greatly hugged by Mrs. James Dillingham Young, already introduced to you as Della. Which is all very good.
Della finished her cry and attended to her cheeks with the powder rag. She stood by the window and looked out dully at a gray cat walking a gray fence in a gray backyard. Tomorrow would be Christmas Day, and she had only $1.87 with which to buy Jim a present. She had been saving every penny she could for months, with this result. Twenty dollars a week doesn’t go far. Expenses had been greater than she had calculated. They always are. Only $1.87 to buy a present for Jim. Her Jim. Many a happy hour she had spent planning for something nice for him. Something fine and rare and sterling—something just a little bit near to being worthy of the honor of being owned by Jim.
There was a pier-glass between the windows of the room. Perhaps you have seen a pier-glass in an $8 flat. A very thin and very agile person may, by observing his reflection in a rapid sequence of longitudinal strips, obtain a fairly accurate conception of his looks. Della, being slender, had mastered the art.
Suddenly she whirled from the window and stood before the glass. Her eyes were shining brilliantly, but her face had lost its color within twenty seconds. Rapidly she pulled down her hair and let it fall to its full length.
Now, there were two possessions of the James Dillingham Youngs in which they both took a mighty pride. One was Jim’s gold watch that had been his father’s and his grandfather’s. The other was Della’s hair. Had the queen of Sheba lived in the flat across the airshaft, Della would have let her hair hang out the window some day to dry just to depreciate Her Majesty’s jewels and gifts. Had King Solomon been the janitor, with all his treasures piled up in the basement, Jim would have pulled out his watch every time he passed, just to see him pluck at his beard from envy.
So now Della’s beautiful hair fell about her rippling and shining like a cascade of brown waters. It reached below her knee and made itself almost a garment for her. And then she did it up again nervously and quickly. Once she faltered for a minute and stood still while a tear or two splashed on the worn red carpet.
On went her old brown jacket; on went her old brown hat. With a whirl of skirts and with the brilliant sparkle still in her eyes, she fluttered out the door and down the stairs to the street.
Where she stopped the sign read: “Mne. Sofronie. Hair Goods of All Kinds.” One flight up Della ran, and collected herself, panting. Madame, large, too white, chilly, hardly looked the “Sofronie.”
“Will you buy my hair?” asked Della.
“I buy hair,” said Madame. “Take yer hat off and let’s have a sight at the looks of it.”
Down rippled the brown cascade.
“Twenty dollars,” said Madame, lifting the mass with a practiced hand.
“Give it to me quick,” said Della.
Oh, and the next two hours tripped by on rosy wings. Forget the hashed metaphor. She was ransacking the stores for Jim’s present.
She found it at last. It surely had been made for Jim and no one else. There was no other like it in any of the stores, and she had turned all of them inside out. It was a platinum fob chain simple and chaste in design, properly proclaiming its value by substance alone and not by meretricious ornamentation—as all good things should do. It was even worthy of The Watch. As soon as she saw it she knew that it must be Jim’s. It was like him. Quietness and value—the description applied to both. Twenty-one dollars they took from her for it, and she hurried home with the 87 cents. With that chain on his watch Jim might be properly anxious about the time in any company. Grand as the watch was, he sometimes looked at it on the sly on account of the old leather strap that he used in place of a chain.
When Della reached home her intoxication gave way a little to prudence and reason. She got out her curling irons and lighted the gas and went to work repairing the ravages made by generosity added to love. Which is always a tremendous task, dear friends–a mammoth task.
Within forty minutes her head was covered with tiny, close-lying curls that made her look wonderfully like a truant schoolboy. She looked at her reflection in the mirror long, carefully, and critically.
“If Jim doesn’t kill me,” she said to herself, “before he takes a second look at me, he’ll say I look like a Coney Island chorus girl. But what could I do—oh! what could I do with a dollar and eighty seven cents?”
At 7 o’clock the coffee was made and the frying-pan was on the back of the stove hot and ready to cook the chops.
Jim was never late. Della doubled the fob chain in her hand and sat on the corner of the table near the door that he always entered. Then she heard his step on the stair away down on the first flight, and she turned white for just a moment. She had a habit for saying little silent prayer about the simplest everyday things, and now she whispered: “Please God, make him think I am still pretty.”
The door opened and Jim stepped in and closed it. He looked thin and very serious. Poor fellow, he was only twenty-two—and to be burdened with a family! He needed a new overcoat and he was without gloves.
Jim stopped inside the door, as immovable as a setter at the scent of quail. His eyes were fixed upon Della, and there was an expression in them that she could not read, and it terrified her. It was not anger, nor surprise, nor disapproval, nor horror, nor any of the sentiments that she had been prepared for. He simply stared at her fixedly with that peculiar expression on his face.
Della wriggled off the table and went for him.
“Jim, darling,” she cried, “don’t look at me that way. I had my hair cut off and sold because I couldn’t have lived through Christmas without giving you a present. It’ll grow out again—you won’t mind, will you? I just had to do it. My hair grows awfully fast. Say `Merry Christmas!’ Jim, and let’s be happy. You don’t know what a nice—what a beautiful, nice gift I’ve got for you.”
“You’ve cut off your hair?” asked Jim, laboriously, as if he had not arrived at that patent fact yet even after the hardest mental labor.
“Cut it off and sold it,” said Della. “Don’t you like me just as well, anyhow? I’m me without my hair, ain’t I?”
Jim looked about the room curiously.
“You say your hair is gone?” he said, with an air almost of idiocy.
“You needn’t look for it,” said Della. “It’s sold, I tell you—sold and gone, too. It’s Christmas Eve, boy. Be good to me, for it went for you. Maybe the hairs of my head were numbered,” she went on with sudden serious sweetness, “but nobody could ever count my love for you. Shall I put the chops on, Jim?”
Out of his trance Jim seemed quickly to wake. He enfolded his Della. For ten seconds let us regard with discreet scrutiny some inconsequential object in the other direction. Eight dollars a week or a million a year—what is the difference? A mathematician or a wit would give you the wrong answer. The magi brought valuable gifts, but that was not among them. This dark assertion will be illuminated later on.
Jim drew a package from his overcoat pocket and threw it upon the table.
“Don’t make any mistake, Dell,” he said, “about me. I don’t think there’s anything in the way of a haircut or a shave or a shampoo that could make me like my girl any less. But if you’ll unwrap that package you may see why you had me going a while at first.”
White fingers and nimble tore at the string and paper. And then an ecstatic scream of joy; and then, alas! a quick feminine change to hysterical tears and wails, necessitating the immediate employment of all the comforting powers of the lord of the flat.
For there lay The Combs—the set of combs, side and back, that Della had worshipped long in a Broadway window. Beautiful combs, pure tortoise shell, with jeweled rims—just the shade to wear in the beautiful vanished hair. They were expensive combs, she knew, and her heart had simply craved and yearned over them without the least hope of possession. And now, they were hers, but the tresses that should have adorned the coveted adornments were gone.
But she hugged them to her bosom, and at length she was able to look up with dim eyes and a smile and say: “My hair grows so fast, Jim!”
And then Della leaped up like a little singed cat and cried, “Oh, oh!”
Jim had not yet seen his beautiful present. She held it out to him eagerly upon her open palm. The dull precious metal seemed to flash with a reflection of her bright and ardent spirit.
“Isn’t it a dandy, Jim? I hunted all over town to find it. You’ll have to look at the time a hundred times a day now. Give me your watch. I want to see how it looks on it.”
Instead of obeying, Jim tumbled down on the couch and put his hands under the back of his head and smiled.
“Dell,” said he, “let’s put our Christmas presents away and keep ’em a while. They’re too nice to use just at present. I sold the watch to get the money to buy your combs. And now suppose you put the chops on.”
The magi, as you know, were wise men—wonderfully wise men—who brought gifts to the Babe in the manger. They invented the art of giving Christmas presents. Being wise, their gifts were no doubt wise ones, possibly bearing the privilege of exchange in case of duplication. And here I have lamely related to you the uneventful chronicle of two foolish children in a flat who most unwisely sacrificed for each other the greatest treasures of their house. But in a last word to the wise of these days let it be said that of all who give gifts these two were the wisest. O all who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest. Everywhere they are wisest. They are the magi.
Free e-versions
iTunes            – The Gift of the Magi
Kindle            – The Gift of the Magi
Project Gutenberg – The Gift of the Magi

LBC Dystopia 17 – The Sleeper Awakes – Write Up


Date:  Tuesday 23rd of September 2015
Time:  6pm – 8pm
Address: Harper Street, LS2 7EA
Tel: 0113 246 9405




* * * * * SPOILERS * * * * *
* * * * * SPOILERS * * * * *
* * * * * SPOILERS * * * * *


A troubled insomniac in 1890s England falls suddenly into a sleep-like trance, from which he does not awake for over two hundred years. During his centuries of slumber, however, investments are made that make him the richest and most powerful man on Earth.

But when he comes out of his trance he is horrified to discover that the money accumulated in his name is being used to maintain a hierarchal society in which most are poor, and more than a third of all people are enslaved.

Oppressed and uneducated, the masses cling desperately to one dream – that the sleeper will awake, and lead them all to freedom.

THE SLEEPER AWAKESAs I was a little late, I missed the bulk of the catch up chatter (GRUMP) and we stuck pretty faithfully to the book discussion from that point onwards (DOUBLE GRUMP). I might have to outlaw conversations in future…

This was my third or forth time to read this and – as I’d expected – I enjoyed it as much as on previous occasions. However, when I’d read it before, I was a school girl in Zimbabwe – I knew that there was inexcusable racism but had always read the book with the proviso that it was written in another time, during different social mores. On this occasion, I felt like twitter goggles have fallen over my eyes – and all I could see were Problematic Elements everywhere I looked. So we had barely sat down before I burst out all the above.

The others looked at me for a second or two before agreeing that OBVIOUSLY the book had to be read with an awareness of the social structures of the time. It has to be read for what it is or every generation would have to start afresh. They quickly glanced to make sure I ‘got’ it. Then returned to the chat.

In the main, we agreed that this was an incredibly easy to read book, with a simple story at it’s heart. The descriptive elements left some of us cold – particularly in relation to aspects that the author accurately foresaw – TV, propaganda, mass production and so on. The elements that the author had predicted inaccurately fascinated us far more – from the roads taking over the railways to the colonization of France – the brief glimpse that we were presented with was of a world significantly different from our own. Not least one that has experienced both the death of Art and Literature. Language – written and spoken – was of great interest to us for a number of different reasons. Unfortunately, this was such an interesting bit that I temporarily stopped taking notes.

It was a delight to read an old school dystopia – no teenagers running around, no global conflict or post apocalyptic setup. This is a stable, if stifling, society.

H.G. Wells had adapted this from a short story and was apparently never truly content with the results. In comparison to his other works, this felt less like pure SF and closer to a social lecture – a thought projection if you will, with much moralising and discovery of ‘inevitable’ truths. However, despite these limitations, there was a naivety to the writing that impacted on most of us. When this book was written; the world had not yet seen one World war…let alone two. We had barely taken to the skies[1902] (that flight had truly captured Wells imagination is quite clear throughout this book [1910] however!) and had not yet conceived of using aeroplanes in battle – perhaps significant that in this book it is the ancient ‘savage’ that conceives it. Women did not yet have the franchise. No country had broken away from the British Empire since America (don’t quote me on that – I’ve googled but am not entirely satisfied with the results). We tried for a second to imagine the impact of this book on the audience of the time…but none of us quite managed it.

With regards to the concepts, we agreed that Wells must have been a very progressive mind for his time. It turns out that even his imagination had limits though – he wanted equality but couldn’t quite conceive of what women would want with it. He envisioned a world where women were free from moral constraints…but lessened without them. And gender was one of the better elements! We had all noticed the odd racist statement throughout the early stages of the book. The only times non-caucasians are mentioned was as a negative. However, at approximately the 2/3’s mark; there is a racist diatribe that quite took our breaths away. It was a sort of horrifying insight to read how overtly racist people were in 1910 (though none of us for one second thought that those thought processes have actually disappeared today). Wince inducing.  Class structures and their impact on society is also discussed throughout the book, with an honesty and self awareness that must have been very unfashionable at the time.

Frequently, we wondered if his initial thoughts had been edited out – there were a number of passages about motherhood, drug taking and the like which seemed about to decry the direction the world was heading in, but Wells pulled his punches instead – having his protagonist highlight these awful things then wave them away as it being his own lack of understanding via being stuck in the old mode of thinking.

Regarding characters, we didn’t have a huge amount to say. The protagonist is pretty well drawn but everyone else appears so briefly that it’s difficult to get a fix on them. Additionally, everyone is concealing something from the main character, so must be treated as unreliable. Which is probably why the only two that didn’t, caught our collective eye. Without a doubt, we all of us responded particularly well to the odd chap that meets Graham and basically serves to catch him up. Mr Exposition is funny, irreverant and spoke eloquently. We were quite enamored.

Our discussion around Helen was a bit more controversial. We agreed that it was frustrating on a number of levels to be presented with a character who ostensibly eshews the characteristics of her gender as observed in this book. Helen is not dumb, flighty, weak willed or dependent. However, she is only every present because she is related to a man who is high up in the resistance. Her sole reason to be is to recruit Graham and inspire him to lead. She serves no other purpose than to propel him to greatness. However, it is also incredibly rare to meet a female character from this period who actually speaks and influences events. Helen is passionate, she tells Graham that his view of the world is wrong and sets him straight. Moreover, she acts because it is the right thing to do, not out of any romantic entanglement (we all assume that this is the romance culled from the short story. Good call HG.) with Graham. These traits kind of made her more bearable to some and a downright pioneer to others!

A great meet up and an awesome choice of book for the club. Though slight, we had lots to say! Always a triumph!


p.s. Ultimately though, some 15 years on from first reading this book…I’m still irritated we didn’t get any more info on why he fell asleep in the first place!

HG Wells – Free Ebooks



Find fellow members on twitter by searching for #LBCDystopia

Let me know your thoughts by either tweeting me @LeedsBookClub, commenting below or emailing me at


LBC Dystopia

Date: 23rd September 2015


Venue: Crowd of Favours

Our next pick is available for free as an ebook. Click on the links below for…

HG Wells – Free Ebooks



A troubled insomniac in 1890s England falls suddenly into a sleep-like trance, from which he does not awake for over two hundred years.

During his centuries of slumber, however, investments are made that make him the richest and most powerful man on Earth.

But when he comes out of his trance he is horrified to discover that the money accumulated in his name is being used to maintain a hierarchal society in which most are poor, and more than a third of all people are enslaved.

Oppressed and uneducated, the masses cling desperately to one dream – that the sleeper will awake, and lead them all to freedom.


Happy World Book Day 2015!

wbdHere at Leeds Book Club, we find that every day is World Book Day… but isn’t it lovely to have a special day set aside just to remind us all about the wonderful marvellous magical and fantastic world of books!


From the WBD website


World Book Day is a celebration! It’s a celebration of authors, illustrators, books and (most importantly) it’s a celebration of reading. In fact, it’s the biggest celebration of its kind, designated by UNESCO as a worldwide celebration of books and reading, and marked in over 100 countries all over the world.

This is the 18th year there’s been a World Book Day, and on 5th March 2015 children of all ages will come together to appreciate reading. Very loudly and very happily. The main aim of World Book Day in the UK and Ireland is to encourage children to explore the pleasures of books and reading by providing them with the opportunity to have a book of their own. That’s why we will be sending schools (including those nurseries and secondary schools that have specially registered to participate), packs of Book Tokens and age-ranged World Book Day Resource Packs (age-ranged into Nursery/Pre-School, Primary and Secondary) full of ideas and activities, display material and more information about how to get involved in World Book Day.

WBD2015From our twitter feed we can see that tons of people are dressing up as their favourite literary characters (or ones that make for less stressful costumes!); playing book based quizzes and games; discussing their favourite books and books that have changed lives as well as holding Book Shows and generally celebrating the stories and tales told in – you guessed it – BOOKS!

Are you celebrating books and reading? Let us know what you get up to via twitter, our facebook page or by leaving a comment below!



As for me, I have some brand new book shelves that need to be organising just so – I will try and get a few of them filled and looking good!

Also, I will be starting Canada by Richard Ford for our #LBCWSwan White Swan based book club to be held on Sunday.

Perhaps I will even post a blog on something literary!


EVENT – Leeds Libraries Quiz Takeover

Leeds Libraries Quiz Takeover
 leeds library

Venue: White Swan Leeds, Swan Street, Leeds

Date:  Thursday 19th of February 2015
Time:  7:00pm

Leeds Libraries will be taking over the White Swan on Thursday the 19th of February!

Pop in from 7pm to enjoy a night of literary wonder in a delightful location, including a quiz that I can only imagine will be very book-orientated!


For more details, send a tweet to @LeedsLibraries

library for leeds

EVENT – Bristol Literature Festival!

The Bristol Women’s Literature Festival returns for 2015

Some of the literary scene’s brightest stars are arriving in Bristol to join a unique festival that celebrates women’s writing.

final logo TEXTAfter its dazzling success in 2013, the Bristol Women’s Literature Festival is delighted to announce it is returning to Watershed on the 14th and 15th March 2015.

The Bristol Women’s Literature Festival aims to celebrate the work of women writers working today and throughout history. It brings together the diverse and exciting talent of women writers, academics and activists to showcase our fantastic literary heritage.

The fascinating and varied programme features award-winning novelist and short story writer, Michele Roberts, winner of Faber Young Poet of the Year Helen Mort, writer and filmmaker Xiaolu Guo, activists and writers Beatrix Campbell and Nimko Ali, and leading academic Professor Helen Hackett.

These women are, without doubt, some of the most influential and vibrant writers working today.

The festival takes place across the weekend of 16th and 17th March at famous Bristol arts venue, Watershed. Organised by feminist writer Siân Norris, the event aims to celebrate the work of women writers in a literary scene that is all too often dominated by male voices.

A stage full of brilliant, brainy, articulate and witty women discussing literature, women, history, activism and the future. An audience full of literature-lovers and woman-likers of all ages, races and walks of life. If anything restores a woman’s faith that we are not just roaring but writing and reading, it’s the Bristol Women’s Literature Festival.’


The Programme

Paris was a Woman film screening

The festival opens on Saturday 14th March with a screening of the award-winning documentary film Paris was a Woman. Greta Schiller’s 1996 film explores the lives of the extraordinary women who made their home on Paris’ Left Bank in the 1920s, including Gertrude Stein, Djuna Barnes, Colette and Sylvia Beach. The film will be followed by a brief audience discussion, chaired by Siân Norris.

Women, Feminism and Journalism

In the afternoon, writers and activists, Beatrix Campbell and Caroline Criado-Perez, activist Nimko Ali, and Helen Lewis, the deputy editor of the New Statesman, will be talking about their work and the relationship between feminism and journalism.

Poetry, Prose and Palestine

On Saturday evening award-winning film director and poet Annemarie Jacir and novelist Selma Dabbagh will read and discuss their own work, and the poems of other well-known Palestinian writers. This event is organised in collaboration with the Bristol Palestinian Film Festival, as part of Conversations about Cinema: Impact of Conflict.

Women Writing in Shakespeare’s Time

Sunday opens with a talk from Professor Helen Hackett on the women of Shakespeare’s time. Professor Hackett will introduce us to the women writers of the Renaissance who have been written out of history, and the process of bringing them back into the canon where they belong.

Women Writing Today

The final event of the festival brings together some of the most exciting and innovative women working in the UK today. Novelist and short story writer Michele Roberts, first time novelist Amy C Mason, poet Helen Mort, playwright and memoirist Samantha Ellis, and writer and filmmaker Xiaolu Guo will join Sarah LeFanu to discuss their work.

Why do we need a women’s literature festival?

Although women have always written and always read, the UK literature scene continues to be very male dominated. A 2012 survey by For Books’ Sake revealed that at Manchester Literature festival, only 20 out of 74 speakers were women, whilst at the Latitude Literary Area, women made up 15 of 53 performers. Meanwhile, the VIDA Count shows the gross gender disparity in major literary publications and book reviews.

The Bristol Women’s Literature Festival aims to:

  • To celebrate the diversity and creativity of women writers
  • To counter the male dominance of literature and cultural festival line-ups
  • To promote women’s writing and history

Founder and director Siân Norris explains:

I decided it wasn’t enough to be frustrated at the continued marginalisation of women writers in our cultural scene. I needed to do something about it. The success of the 2013 festival was phenomenal. Everyone wants to be part of this event. It is a real and vital opportunity to talk about women’s writing and women’s role in shaping and influencing our culture – both historically and in the present. I am so proud to be part of it and delighted that Watershed will be hosting it again this year.’

The festival is supported by Watershed, Foyles, The Bristol Palestinian Film Festival and The Bristol Festival of Ideas.

The Story of the Other Wise Man – Henry Van Dyke

Originally posted in 1895, this beautiful story has become part of our Christmas lore. 

The links lead to a HTML version of the story by Project Gutenberg.

The Story of the Other Wise Man
Henry Van Dyke
Who seeks for heaven alone to save his soul,
May keep the path, but will not reach the goal;
While he who walks in love may wander far,
Yet God will bring him where the blessed are.


You know the story of the Three Wise Men of the East, and how they traveled from far away to offer their gifts at the manger-cradle in Bethlehem. But have you ever heard the story of the Other Wise Man, who also saw the star in its rising, and set out to follow it, yet did not arrive with his brethren in the presence of the young child Jesus? Of the great desire of this fourth pilgrim, and how it was denied, yet accomplished in the denial; of his many wanderings and the probations of his soul; of the long way of his seeking, and the strange way of his finding, the One whom he sought—I would tell the tale as I have heard fragments of it in the Hall of Dreams, in the palace of the Heart of Man.

Part 01 – Introduction

Part 05 – A pearl of a great price

Free e-versions
iTunes            – The Story of the Other Wise Man
Kindle            – The Story of the Other Wise Man
Project Gutenberg – The Story of the Other Wise Man

Please note – re calendars

The Calendar and Book Clubs at a Glance pages will both be taken down for a few days.


We’re working on making it easier to see what’s on and where!


In the mean time, our first book club of the New Year will be:

Where: White Swan

When:  11th of January at 6:30pm

Discussing: The Vet’s Daughter by Barbara Comyns

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