Wednesday 24th September 3:00pm

kate stablesChildren’s Hour—music, rhythm, and stories for kids. Bring your children (2-6 year-olds, siblings welcome too) to the library at Shakespeare and Company for an hour of music, songs, and stories in English (for all nationalities, even those who don't speak English). Led by the magic Kate Stables, mum and singer/songwriter from This is the Kit, this lovely event has become an institution. There will be instruments to play and a lot of noise to make! Four euros donation appreciated.

Due to space restrictions, we ask that you try and email Kate at to confirm your place, and also that each child is accompanied by only one adult where possible. Thanks, all!

Friday 26th September 12:30pm

sharkFollowing the Booker-shortlisted UmbrellaShark is a mind-bending novel of the intersection of pathology and war, set in the 1970s but pivoting around the dropping of “Little Boy” on Hiroshima.

“A truly wonderful novel … an exciting, mesmerising, wonderfully disturbing book. Go with it and it’ll suck you under”—The Telegraph

Umbrella was about how humanity brilliantly innovates; Shark is about how it constantly devastates … I have every expectation that when this trilogy does conclude, it will be recognised as the most remorseless vivisection and plangent evocation of our sad, silly, solemn and strange last century”—The Guardian

Will Self is the author of many novels and books of non-fiction, including Great ApesThe Book of Dave, How the Dead Live, which was shortlisted for the Whitbread Novel of the Year 2002, The Butt, winner of the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction 2008, and Umbrella, which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize 2012. He lives in South London.

Will Self interviews Will Self:

Wednesday 1st October 7:00pm

trenchesWW1: Why Did It Happen?

To mark this important centenary year, we’re thrilled to present world-acclaimed historians Margaret Macmillan (The War That Ended Peace) and Paul Ham (1914: The Year the World Ended) for a fascinating discussion on what drove the world to war in 1914.

The First World War followed a period of sustained peace in Europe during which people talked with confidence of prosperity, progress, and hope. But in 1914, Europe walked into a catastrophic conflict that killed millions, bled its economies dry, shook empires and societies to pieces, and fatally undermined Europe’s dominance of the world. It was a war that could have been avoided up to the last moment—so why did it happen? Beginning in the early nineteenth century and ending with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, The War That Ended Peace uncovers the huge political and technological changes, national decisions, and just as impor­tant, the small moments of human muddle and weakness that led Europe from peace to disaster. This masterful exploration of how Europe chose its path towards war will change and enrich how we see this defining moment in history.

In 1914: The Year the World Ended, award-winning historian Paul Ham tells the story of the outbreak of the Great War from German, British, French, Austria-Hungarian, Russian, and Serbian perspectives. Along the way, he debunks several stubborn myths. European leaders, for example, did not stumble or ‘sleepwalk' into war, as many suppose. They fully understood that a small conflict in the Balkans—the tinderbox at the heart of the continent—could spark a European war. They well knew what their weapons could do. Yet they carried on. 1914: The Year the World Ended seeks to answer the most vexing question of the 20th century: Why did European governments decide to condemn the best part of a generation of young men to the trenches and four years of slaughter, during which 8.5 million would die?

Margaret MacMillan is the Warden of St Antony’s College and a Professor of International History at the University of Oxford. Her books include Women of the Raj (1988, 2007); Paris 1919: Six Months that Changed the World (2001) for which she was the first woman to win the Samuel Johnson Prize; Nixon in China: Six Days that Changed the WorldThe Uses and Abuses of History (2008); and Extraordinary Canadians: Stephen Leacock (2009). The War that Ended Peace was awarded the International Affairs Book of the Year at the Political Book Awards 2014

Paul Ham is the author of Hiroshima Nagasaki (2011), Vietnam: The Australian War (2007) and Kokoda (2004). Vietnam won the New South Wales Premier's Prize for Australian History and was shortlisted for the Prime Minister's Prize for Non-Fiction (2008). Kokoda was shortlisted for the Walkley Award for Non-Fiction and the New South Wales Premier's Prize for Non-Fiction. Sandakan: The Untold Story of the Sandakan Death Marches was published in 2012 and was shortlisted for the 2013 Prime Minister's Literary Award for History.

Monday 6th October 7:00pm

booktoberJoin us for a 'Global Book Night' to launch 'Booktober', a month-long campaign to raise funds and awareness for global literacy. Created and pioneered by children's literacy charity Room to Read, Booktober 2014 will be the charity's third month-long campaign, with exciting literary events taking place all over the world throughout the month of October. Join us upstairs at Shakespeare and Company from 7-9pm for an evening of readings from across the world, from countries where Room to Read is most active. There will also be special themed snacks and drinks, and one or two other exciting surprises. Discover new authors and learn more about this great charity---and help us kick off Booktober in style!

Wednesday 15th October 6:00pm

hamletThe Bard-en-Seine Readings

Throughout 2014, in honour of the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth, we’re hosting the Bard-en-Seine Readings. The goal is simple: to revisit and celebrate some of Shakespeare’s most loved plays. So, once a month, we will be hosting informal read-throughs in the library, which will be recorded and sent out as podcasts in this very newsletter.

For October, the play will be Hamlet and the reading will take place on Wednesday 15th at 6pm, in the library.

If you’d like to take part, please email Milly Unwin at, and tell her whether you’d prefer a larger or a smaller role. Parts will be allocated on a first-come first-served basis, and we’ll let you know a week in advance of the reading whether you have a role. No preparation necessary, and we’ll provide the scripts. Please note that, due to space restrictions, the Bard-en-Seine Readings will only be open to those taking part.

The allocated plays for each remaining month of 2014 are as follows:

November – Twelfth Night

December – Anthony and Cleopatra

Please check the newsletter and website each month for dates and times, and details of how to apply.

Friday 17th October 7:00pm

Philosophers in the Library: The Politics of Style

What is literary style? In what sense can it be said to be political? In this talk, Daniel Hartley will give a brief overview of the history of the concept of style and will explain why and how it became central to the work of three Marxist literary critics: Raymond Williams, Terry Eagleton and Fredric Jameson. He will provide an overview of the politico-philosophical problems that style raises (e.g., the advent of novelty, transindividual experience and historical temporality) and will share with the audience some of the concepts he himself has developed for the political analysis of literary styles.

Daniel Hartley is Lecturer in English and American Literature and Culture at the University of Giessen (Germany). His book, The Politics of Style: Marxist Poetics in and beyond Raymond Williams, Terry Eagleton and Fredric Jameson, will be published by Brill in 2015.

Monday 20th October 7:00pm

bonnie greerWe’re delighted to present the wonderful Bonnie Greer, who will be discussing her new memoir, A Parallel Life, and the search for an authentic voice over the course of her career.

Bonnie Greer is an award-winning playwright and has written more than a dozen plays for BBC Radio, a short film for BBC2, a documentary for BBC television, two novels, and a biography of the writer and social activist Langston Hughes. She has also turned her hand to acting, playing Joan of Arc on the Paris stage. Bonnie Greer has lived in the United Kingdom since 1986 and was awarded an OBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours 2010 for her contribution to the arts and, the following year, she was named one of the UK's Top 300 Public Intellectuals. A regular contributor to Sky News Paper Review, BBC2's The Review Show and Radio 4's Any Questions, she also writes occasionally for The London Evening Standard, the Guardian, and The Daily Telegraph.

A Parallel Life is the first volume of Bonnie Greer’s emotive, outspoken, and inspiring memoirs. It tells the story of a young African-American girl born into the black working class, growing up in a culture of racism and limited opportunity in 1960s Chicago—and ultimately receiving an award from the Queen for her contribution to the arts in the UK.