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Peckham Literary Festival

Peckham Literary Festival 2009

Peckham. Gangs; council estates; the odd drive-by shooting. Oh, and Del-Boy – let's not forget Del-Boy.

And then more recently an award-winning upside-down library, and some very fetching rusty bollards. Regeneration.

Hmmm. If that's what you think, then you're awfully out of date. The cognoscenti know better (‘cos by definition that's what cognoscenti do). From William Blake through Dickens to today's participants in our festival, Peckham really is Britain's number one creative hotspot, with artists' colonies breaking out all over the place, heaving with thesps and musicians, and of course writers.

And it is these latter that this festival is all about – from the authors and poets who live in the area currently, to those who have drawn inspiration from the area in some way over the centuries. Actually, it is about any old literature, so long as it is good. It is a celebration of books and words and Peckham, all rolled into one.

We have a jam packed schedule - click on 'Events' to see a daily listing. There will be readings, performances, book launches, story-telling and film and even something for the kids with Southwarks Children‘s Literature Festival at Peckham Library.

Entry to all events is free but it is advisable to book a space - click on 'Book Into This Event' at the top of each event listing or alternatively, use the 'Email us' link on the left and let us know which events you'd like to attend.


  • Breakfast With Socrates: An Evening with Robert Rowland Smith

    Monday 16th November - 19:30PM - Review Bookshop

    Robert writes a column on ‘life lessons' in the Evening Standard and contributes to the massively popular Philosophy Bites podcast series and speaks regularly on BBC radio.

    His new book explores the hidden philosophy of everyday life in the company of some of the greatest thinkers in history. It asks you to question your daily routine. Can Nietzsche improve your commute? What does Freud think about your shopping? Does Bakhtin approve of your gym fetish? From getting ready in the morning, commuting, having dinner, attending a party, arguing with your partner, having sex, to falling back to sleep - your day will never be the same again.


  • From Alexander to the Taliban: A Survey of a Benighted Yet Enthralling Country

    Tuesday 17th November - 19:30PM - Review Bookshop

    In tonight's talk Arabist Hugh Leach will describe Afghanistan's geographical and tribal make up and give a brief history of the country from the time of Alexander the Great, through the period of British involvement during the 19th and early 20th centuries, to the present day. After laying the necessary Islamist background to what motivates the Taliban and AlQa'ida, he will debate the uneasy situation that now prevails.

    Hugh served as a solider and diplomat for 36 years mainly in the Middle East. He has travelled widely in Afghanistan including exploration of a remote source of the great Oxus river in northern Badakhshan. In an active retirement he has, inter alia, led young persons expeditions to the Hindu Kush and Karakorum mountains of northern Pakistan. Historian of the Royal Society for Asian Affairs (Royal Central Asian Society) and the author of its Centennial History “Strolling About on the Roof of the World” (Routledge 2003) and a holder of its Lawrence of Arabia Memorial Medal. Hugh is currently engaged in writing a book about his early travels in the Yemen with the late Dame Freya Stark, comprising sepia photographs taken with 1930 Leica cameras. He is also Associate Director of the Academy of Circus Arts, the only travelling Circus School in Europe.


    Tuesday 17th November - 19:30PM - Persepolis

    An evening of travelling and music and travelling with music: Garth Cartwright and Daniel Metcalfe in conversation. Garth’s new book More Miles Than Money - Journeys Through American Music, is a stomping good follow-up to his earlier classic Princes Amongst Men. This is a great read for anyone who likes music, blues and the wide open road.

    Daniel’s book Out of Steppe came out earlier this year, when he was kind enough to come along and talk to us: now he joins Garth for a lively chat about, well, you know, stuff.

    Both authors will be happy to sign copies of their books.

    Light refreshments provided.

    Random House
    Serpent's Tail

  • Wyld Night: Readings and Q&A with Evie

    Wednesday 18th November - 19:30PM - Review Bookshop

    Evie Wyld’s first novel “After the Fire A Still Small Voice” has been universally applauded (well in the UK, Australia and America!) as a terrifically self-assured debut. Her prose has been pronounced comparable to Tim Winton, Steve Toltz, Peter Carey and winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, Patrick White.

    She is also known for her short stories which include “Menzies Meat“, “The Convalescent’s Handbook” and “What Will Happen to the Dog After We Are Dead?” which have been published in various magazines and anthologies. Recently returned from a stint at the Melbourne Writers Festival and a promotional trip to New York she is now revitalised and ready to answer your tricksy Questions.

    Stop Press!!! Evie is in the running for this year's John Llewellyn Ryhs literary prize, up against 2007 Orange Prize winner Chichimanda Ngozi Adichie and 2008 Booker Prize winner Aravind Adiga.


  • Lost English: An Evening with Chris Roberts

    Wednesday 18th November - 19:30PM - Persepolis

    In the last thirty years or so a large number of once commonplace words, phrases and expressions have disappeared without trace from common usage. And with them, too, have gone a number of goods, services and everyday objects that were once an important part of our everyday lives.

    Where did they go and why?

    In Lost English, local author Chris Roberts casts a nostalgic eye over words and phrases that were once in everyday use, takes a look at how our language has changed and investigates the influence of other cultures on our own.

    Booking advisable, refreshments provided.


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