Thursday, 28 March 2013

Framed by Christy Fearn

Launch of Christy Fearn's Debut Novel Framed

Thursday 2 May, 7.30pm
Nottingham Writers' Studio, 3rd floor, 32a Stoney Street, NG1 1LL

Free entry

The girl with the Byron tattoo is back. Celebrate the publication by Open Books of Christy's novel Framed: A Historical Novel about the Revolt of the Luddites. Known for giving Romantic figures a rock'n'roll makeover in her lively talks (e.g. Byron the First Rock Star, Shelley—Punk or What?), Christy takes on Lord Byron and Nottingham's very own Framebreakers in her first novel, a story of intrigue, injustice, and resistance. Come and hear her read, ask a few questions, and get your signed copy first.

Refreshments are bring-your-own.
Framed: A Historical Novel about the Revolt of the Luddites
by Christy Fearn
As French émigré Roman Catholics, Lizette Molyneux and her brother Robert are used to an existence on the edge of their Regency Nottingham community. But when Robert is arrested for a crime he insists he did not commit, Lizzie must draw on all her strength and courage to help him. Overcoming poverty, prejudice and the unwanted advances of her employer’s son, she unites with the frame-breaking Luddites to free her brother and to rectify social injustice.

With all the excitement of Sharpe (Bernard Cornwell), as well as the social commentary of Elizabeth Gaskell and Victor Hugo, Framed dramatises the issues of a turbulent time and champions the resistance of poverty-stricken workers. If you liked Les Miserables, then you’ll love Framed!


Nottingham Readers

Nottingham Readers meet every third or fourth Tuesday every month in the back room of Edin's bistro, Broad Street, Nottingham. We usually read fiction, mostly contemporary or Twentieth Century but sometimes older. We often disagree, but never come to fisticuffs. Like the United Nations. But with wine. One meeting will prove to you we aren't a bunch of geniuses. We just like to discuss loudly, and with much waving of arms.
Contact details:

D H Lawrence - Dirty War Poems Published

10,000 words were censored from Sons and Lovers, copies of The Rainbow were destroyed (a lesbian episode among the offending passages) and the sexually explicit Lady Chatterley's Lover was banned. But it was not just the novels of D H Lawrence that suffered censorship. The state, and fearful publishers, also banned his poetry.

A new edition of poems by Lawrence, entitled The Poems, sheds new light on the miner's son, revealing him as a brilliant war poet. The work, attacking British imperialism during the First World War, was rendered unreadable by the censor's pen and barred from publication. Deleted passages have now been restored and many errors removed for this first critical edition of Lawrence's poetry.  

The new volume's editor, Christopher Pollnitz, told the Observer that it “radically shifts our understanding of Lawrence's significance as a poet.”

Lawrence wrote poetry from 1905 until his death in 1930 and over 800 poems have been published in this new edition. They include All of Us, a sequence of 31 war poems never fully published before, which reveal Lawrence's preoccupation with the Allies' campaigns in the war. Between 1916 and 1919, Lawrence struggled to get the sequence into print. Pollnitz said, “Publishers who knew of the banning of The Rainbow would not touch a collection that criticised imperial policy – the opening up of eastern fronts in Turkey or Iraq – and poetry that explored the evil of self-sacrifice for some abstract greater good.”

Lawrence also wrote about the home front and the changing roles of women – a girl startling her boyfriend by asking him to stay with her before he leaves – and how childhood innocence can be wrecked by the stresses of war.

Ill-health meant Lawrence himself was never conscripted. His insight into the war probably came from his pacifist friend, Lady Cynthia Asquith, daughter-in-law of Prime Minister Herbert Asquith. While war poets such as Wilfred Owen depicted the cruelty of a bloody battlefield, Lawrence tackled the loss of lives and impact on loved ones from a political point of view. He also had to write with more subtlety because censors were already watching him.

The new Cambridge Edition is now available.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

A Nottingham Novel, Down Under

On the other side of the world (in northern New South Wales) a novel has just been published by the Australian Publisher Zeus Publications. Nothing newsworthy about that - yes, Australians read - but this book is by a Nottingham-born author and it’s set it in our great city. David Goodman, an ex-lawyer and former Nottingham High School pupil, has combined his lifelong love of history with his penchant for storytelling, to write In Lud’s Name.

Here’s the blurb:
It is the second decade of the Nineteenth Century in early Industrial Revolution Nottingham. The emerging hosiery industry is the only means of livelihood for hundreds of refugees from the surrounding agricultural villages who have fled to the town in search of a less hazardous way of life.

They are herded into hastily-built constructed slums, and grudgingly paid subsistence wages for a skilled product which is funding several private fortunes among the more wealthy entrepreneurs.

The terms if international trade, blighted by the Napoleonic Wars, render the hosiery product hard to sell in Europe, while at the same time forcing the domestic food prices ever upward. Starvation and disease are rife in the festering courtyards of the resentful workers, who are desperate for a champion to their cause.

Into the tinderbox someone throws a lighted fuse called Ned Lud…

The Foreword:

The term “Luddite” has acquired a popular meaning not justified by history. Ask most people whom they believe the Luddites to have been, and their response will be something along the lines of ‘a bunch of violent Lefties from somewhere in the north of England who opposed technical progress, and smashed new machines which were throwing them out of work’.

Wrong on every count except the use of violence. But it was a violence born of desperation which drove them to smash, not new machines which threatened their livelihoods, but the very machines on which they had been earning their livings for at least a generation. That desperation arose, not from any technical threat, but from hunger, disease, and wretched living conditions, in the face of the seeming indifference of those whose apparent prosperity they were feeding. But the very entrepreneurs whose working capital went under the hammer, axe and tinder box almost nightly for two turbulent years were themselves victims of the same economic downturn, and were financially powerless to relieve the sufferings of their workers.

I have set out to depict what little is known of the actual events from both sides of the economic divide, through the eyes of two notional families whose mutual regard and respect for each other brings them nothing but tragedy. The main characters are obviously fictional, but the dates are accurate, and most of the background is historically sound. There really was a Town Clerk called George Coldham, and the Home Secretary of the time really was a man named Richard Ryder. The maiden speech of Lord Byron during the House of Lords debate on the Framework Bill is reproduced word for word.

There also really was a man named Gravener Henson, and one theory puts him very close to events. We shall never know for certain, because the real Luddites kept their identities as well hidden from the modern historian as they did from the authorities at the time. Whether or not one can conclude that they came from ‘somewhere up north’ depends upon where one is standing. They came from Nottingham, an English Midlands town famous mainly for Robin Hood and pretty girls. Also for its lace industry, made pre-eminent in the world by the men and women on whose behalf this story is told, in an attempt to set the record straight.

David Goodman


A Sample:

A rat foraged hopefully through a mound of rotting garbage, nose twitching, its writhing tail flicking a channel through the slime. Tommy Slack’s boot missed it by half an inch, and it shot for the sanctuary of the open drain which ran through the centre of the greasy, unpaved, inner courtyard. Tommy grinned, and completed the short journey from the communal corner privy to the single low door of Number 7.

The fog which had hung since daybreak over the River Leen, fully a hundred feet below the huddled slums which perched on Drury Hill, had since crept cautiously up Narrow Marsh, searching out the overcrowded courts and narrow alleyways. By two o’clock it had already drifted into Tanners Yard, and now – a few minutes short of three – was snaking triumphantly around the roofs of the workmen’s dwellings. These were only a generation old, but their unscrupulous developers appeared to have opted for instant slums, laid out in cramped back-to-back rows around the courtyard.

It was October 22nd, 1809, and Old Joe Slack was to be buried.
Tommy lifted the latch and rejoined the company. Many had gathered to pay their last respects to Old Joe, and the cramped all-purpose room was rank with the steam of cold damp clothing on marginally warmer bodies. In the upper room lay Old Joe himself, on a borrowed trestle, in a basic coffin donated by the church. A modest enough arrangement in itself, but no-one in the Yard could recall a neighbour going off in a coffin. Nor would he have done, in all probability, had the entire family, Joe included, not been regular worshippers at that same church.

From time to time, a mourner would mount the rickety stairs to the upper room, and gaze down wistfully at their former neighbour. Grizzled, shrunken, and even greyer in death than he had been in life, Joe Slack had lived to be 62, a feat of endurance for someone who had worked a stocking frame for nigh on thirty years.
It was a meet time for reflection, and Nathan Slack was ever one for that. He’d been just short of his thirteenth birthday when his father had led the entire family off the fields of Edwalton into the town parish of St Mary’s, newly swollen by the pre-war expansion of the Nottingham hosiery trade. The parish had been overcrowded even then, and Nathan’s mother had been the first to succumb to the unhealthy fog which rose almost daily from the river, almost as if to shroud the squalor above. At the age of thirty-six, she’d left a husband and three children – a common enough loss, and Old Joe had battled on.

In Nathan, Joe had raised a son in his own image, a strong and willing worker who’d helped to support the family through long hours at the frame. At the age of fourteen, Nathan’s sister Nellie had died of the fever, and at seventeen, his younger sister Rose had perished under the wheels of a coach and pair on Short Hill. Joe and Nathan had lived alone until Lily came along.

It was Lily who broke the spell, a firm hand on Nathan’s arm.
'It’s near time – best see to the carryin’ party.’

Nathan smiled proudly as he watched her bustle back into the company; even at his own father’s funeral, she was taking charge. They’d managed well enough these past sixteen years, and he wouldn’t have wanted her any other way.

The flickering glow from the oil lamp suspended by a hook from the ceiling – essential all day during the winter months – picked out the silver in her auburn hair, tied back, as ever, in a neat bunch at the nape of her neck. She was only of average height for a woman of those times, but even so, over the years, the low ceiling had trained her to an instinctive stoop. Her once-slender figure had swollen with rough housework and childbirth, and their latest – surely their last? – showed only modestly beneath her coarse-cloth apron. Perhaps this one would survive, making it four. Those stillborn had all been boys, and Old Annie had divined a girl this time, not that Lily believed in ‘all that tomfoolery’.

Nathan was drawn back again to the business in hand as Tommy sidled alongside him.

‘There’s still time to change it, Da – Will’s complainin’ as ’is back’s bad.’

Nathan sighed with irritation.

‘Yer not goin’ in the carryin’ party, and there’s an end on it. Yer place as eldest boy is with yer Mam and me, up the front. There’s plenty more can carry the coffin.’
‘But Da…’
'I’m tellin’ yer, lad – it’s all settled. Now go an’ see after the guests, like yer Mam asked yer.’
Tommy snorted away, and Nathan reminded himself for the tenth time that it was the right decision. At fifteen, although tall for his age, Tommy was probably too young to be a bearer, and if he gave in to Tommy, he could hardly refuse his brother Matthew, and thirteen was definitely too young. It was a pity, all the same – they’d both thought the world of their grandfather.

As usual, it had been Lily who’d had the last word.
‘I’m not ’avin’ folks sayin’ as no-one else’d tek him,’ she’d announced flatly, ‘and anyroad, we must walk as a family, and our place is up the front.’
By way of compensation, Tommy had been placed in charge of the meagre supply of ale, to fortify the mourners against the dreary uphill trudge to the burial ground.
Nathan pushed through the throng to the foot of the stairs, signalling to certain of the men as he went. Once upstairs, Ben Pilgrim secured the lid with a handful of nails, then helped the other three pass the coffin down to the room below, where it was lowered reverently to the ground. The four men then paused nervously, waiting for the word.
‘Ready, then? Mind the balance as you go. You’ll be right enough, Will?’
Will Draycott grinned toothlessly.
‘Reckon that lad o’ yourn’s bin tellin’ whoppers again. Me back were a bit sore yesterday, that’s all. It’ll tek no gristle ter lift poor old Joe, anyroad.’
Relieved to have the final decision taken out of his hands, Nathan caught Lily’s eye across the room, and gave her a silent nod. Lily slipped off her apron, and took hold of a ladle from the hob-rack. As Joe’s coffin was lifted effortlessly onto willing shoulders on a whispered command from Nathan, she struck the ladle against the pot which hung over the empty hearth.
An instant silence descended, and Nathan stepped self-consciously towards the door, followed by the coffin and its four carriers. The company parted down the middle as Nathan led them out, crouching to clear the low lintel as they moved out into the Yard. The rest followed, and as the full procession formed up outside, Lily dropped the latch behind the last of them. She then came round to stand alongside Nathan at the head of the line, their two sons immediately behind them as instructed, and young Ruth holding onto Lily’s right hand. There was a moment’s hesitation, and then they moved off at what they hoped was a suitable funereal pace.
The fog now engulfed the whole of St Mary’s, swirling and twisting in unchallenged eddies wherever its whim decreed. The measured tread of the mourners rang hollowly against the crumbling archway exit from the Yard, as they passed under it and out onto Drury Hill. A carriage clattered somewhere above them, and they braced themselves against the cold dank air and the steep climb up to Weekday Cross.
They turned right at the Cross, and were in High Pavement, stepping at an easy pace for the sake of the women and children, a humble cortege of some forty common people. High on their left rose the four-storeyed mansions of the well-to-do – the manufacturers, tradesmen, frame-owners and suchlike. To their right, the High Pavement Chapel and School, the Shire Hall and the Town Gaol, perched menacingly on the edge of the steep cliff which fell sharply down to the Leen.
Beyond the narrow river, on the flat plain which gave access to the wider Trent, of which the Leen was merely a polluted tributary, lay the open meadows of the East and West Crofts, barren now, but in summer months the favoured picnic grounds of the workers of St Mary’s. A chance to fill their lungs with God’s good air, and their tiny back-to-back houses with daffodils and crocuses. Today, the Meadows lay somewhere behind a heaving grey wall, and not even the wealthy, from their servants’ attic rooms, could buy a glimpse.
The occasional passer-by scurried in and out of the fog, and Lily pressed close to Nathan, her left arm in his right, seeking his warmth and his reassuring presence. He recalled how she’d shared his arm all those years ago, as they’d left the Sion Chapel, man and wife in the sight of God. Further back still, how she’d first come into the Yard, a bundle of starved rags pursued by the Town Watch.
It had been cold then too, a wicked November night with clear skies and a cruel early frost. The hue and cry had risen on Drury Hill, and had followed her as she’d scampered for refuge into Tanners Yard, a grimy scarecrow of a girl. Nathan, then a robust young man of twenty-two still grieving for the tragic loss of his sister Rose, had been out in the courtyard, chipping the first hard ice of the year from the doorway of Number 7. Lily had raced behind him and across into the corner privy; seconds later, two burly officers of the Watch had skidded under the archway and into the Yard, each holding aloft a search lantern.
‘You! Seen a girl come in ’ere?’
Nathan disliked the Watch, and particularly Watt Griffin.
‘They come in and out all the time – why, you lost one?’
Griffin scowled at Nathan, then scanned the Yard, his lantern held as high as his short arms and legs permitted. His suspicious eyes fixed on the privy.
‘What abart in there?’
‘Have a look for yerself, but don’t blame me if Scuff Needham pulls yer ears off.’
‘Scuff’ Needham was a fearsome size, and none of the Watch had ever taken him. Griffin was not in the mood for pointless heroics, not even with Collins to assist. With a final glare at Nathan, he swaggered out of Yard, closely followed by a relieved colleague. Nathan waited silently until the privy door opened a few cautious inches.
‘They’ve gone, lass – nowt to fear.’
She’d have slipped back out of the Yard, but Nathan intercepted her and held on firmly to her right arm.
‘Not so fast, young lady. Now then, you bin stealin’ or summat?’
Proud eyes had burned into his.
‘That’ll be the day as Lily Parker steals – and I’ll thank yer to tek yer gret hairy fist off me arm!’
‘I’ll do that when I’m good and sure why yer ’ere. Da!’
Old Joe had shuffled carefully out over the icy threshold in answer to Nathan’s summons, and had surveyed the young girl with a wisdom born of experience.
‘Yer can let ’er go, Nathan – anyone can see she’s got nowhere to run to.’
‘I reckon she’s bin stealin’ or summat.’
‘An’ I reckon yer wrong. Anyroad, fust thing is to get summat warm into ’er. She’s shiverin’ fit ter bust.’
Nathan looked down at her more gently.
‘What d’yer say, lass? Like summat ter eat?’
Temptation and suspicion fought each other in both her face and words.
‘I’ll not lie with yer, if that’s what yer think.’
‘That yer’ll not lass – leastways, not smellin’ like that.’
He’d had to let go of her as she lashed back at him with an outraged fist.
It had taken many days of gentleness to allay her suspicions, and at first it was only Old Joe who could really set her at ease. Her story was by no means novel.
The oldest daughter in a family of seven born to a drunken, itinerant tinker and his timid, downtrodden wife, she’d stuck with the beatings, abuse and humiliation for sixteen years, for the sake of the mother and family she’d adored. Her mother had died the previous Christmas, and all the children but Lily (who was above the age of child charity) had been consigned to the Leicester Poorhouse. She’d followed her father under threat of further violence, and in the waning hope that love and devotion might even yet be his salvation.

Until a British publisher picks up on this book you’ll have to visit Zeus Publications or to find a copy, but I’m told an ebook version is on its way.

Beeston Poets - new season

Following the success of their inaugural season in 2012, Beeston Poets is back with another season of some of the most interesting poetry that is happening now.

All events take place at Beeston Library, Foster Avenue, Beeston, Nottingham NG9 1AW.

... and now you can buy tickets online!

Versions of the North: Contemporary Yorkshire PoetryVersions of the North, Friday April 26th 2013, 7.30pm

Featuring Ian Parks,
Elizabeth Barrett, Steve Ely
and Becky Cherriman

Tickets £7.50, £5.50 concessions

Yorkshire has a vibrant and diverse range of poets and poetry, following in the footsteps of such luminaries as Andrew Marvell, Philip Larkin and Ted Hughes. Versions of the North, edited by Ian Parks and published by Five Leaves in April 2013, is the first anthology of modern Yorkshire poetry since Vernon Scannell's 1984 Contemporary Yorkshire Poetry. Parks has created a collection that showcases sixty-two of the best of today’s Yorkshire poets.

Pippa Hennessy of Five Leaves says, ‘Ian has put together a stunning collection of contemporary poems that all have a quintessential seam of pure Yorkshire running through their hearts."

Ophelia's SistasOphelia's Sistas, Friday May 24th 2013, 7.30pm

Featuring Char March
and Valerie Laws

Tickets £7.50, £5.50 concessions

Last July acclaimed poets Char March and Valerie Laws wowed the audience at Southwell Library Poetry Festival. It is impossible to describe how good it was to those who missed it, so now here’s another chance to hear these two very different voices. Char March’s ‘The Thousand Natural Shocks’ and Valerie Laws’ ‘All that Lives’ come together and take their audiences on an exploration of pathology, wild sex, dementia, lost pigeons, flirting at funerals, dogs in space, insanity – and more! Their poetry is deeply moving and side-splittingly funny. 

Sheelagh Gallagher, Nottinghamshire’s Literature and Reading Development Officer, says, ‘It was more like a firework display than a collaboration!’

Whistle, Martin FiguraWhistle, by Martin Figura, Friday July 5th 2013

A multimedia performance
produced by Martin Figura
and Apples & Snakes

Tickets £7.50, £5.50 concessions

At the centre of Martin Figura’s Whistle is his mother’s death at the hands of his father when he was nine years old. The work goes beyond this shocking central event to present us with a tender, beautiful, funny and moving coming-of-age story. Figura uses gentle humour and insight to give the reader and audience a profound and uplifting experience. The book was published by Arrowhead Press in 2010. The poem ‘Victor’ was awarded the Poetry Society’s 2010 Hamish Canham Prize, and the book together with the show was short-listed for the 2010 Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry. 

Cathy Grindrod, on behalf of Nottingham Poetry Society, says, ‘I will never forget seeing Whistle for the first time. Moving, powerful, memorable and highly recommended.’

“Profoundly honest and at the same time joyfully entertaining” – Independent on Sunday

Tickets £7.50/£5.50 concs, from:
Beeston Library
Foster Avenue
Nottingham NG9 1AW
in person (cash/cheque)
or through the online shop

Sunday, 17 March 2013

EMBA shortlist announced

The shortlist for the 2013 East Midland’s Book Award has been announced.

As expected, Nottingham’s 2012 literary success stories, Alison Moore and Jon McGregor, have both made the list. Moore was shortlisted for the Man Booker award and McGregor won the International IMPAC Dublin award.

The shortlist:

Will Buckingham – The Descent of the Lyre, Roman

John Gallas – Fresh Air, and The Story of Molecule, Carcanet

Graham Joyce – Some Kind of Fairy Tale, Orion

Jon McGregor – This Isn’t the Sort Of Thing That Happens To Someone Like You, Bloomsbury

Alison Moore – The Lighthouse, Salt

Neil Roberts – A Lucid Dreamer, The Life of Peter Redgrove, Random House

Jonathan Taylor – Entertaining Strangers, Salt

Mel Read (a co-judge) and trustee John Lucas with shortlisted authors Graham Joyce, Jonathan Taylor, Neil Roberts, Alison Moore and Will Buckingham.
The winner will be announced in the summer.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Bromley House Library

“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.”
Marcus Tullus Cicero (106-43 BC)

Notts Lit pays a visit to Nottingham's only subscription library, celebrating its 200th birthday in 2016.

Sandwiched between a charity shop and a newsagent’s is the entrance to the Grade II listed Bromley House. You may have walked past it, heading up Angel Row on your way to Central Library or down to the Bell Inn, unaware of the historic riches that await behind its front door.

In 1947 the ground floor was rented out to shops
Back in 1816, Nottingham Subscription Library was founded by a group of Nottinghamshire professionals. Four years later they purchased Bromley House for £2,750, and, in 1822 they moved their library from Carlton Street to its new home. Bromley House had been built as a town house in 1752, for the Nottingham banker George Smith.

Smith named the building Bromley House after his son changed his name to Bromley.
Stepping inside the building is like walking through a wardrobe and discovering Narnia - at Christmas! You might find yourself looking back over your shoulder, to check you're really in the centre of Nottingham.  
The impressive entrance hall with its ornate decoration
The spacious hall - currently exhibiting a modern interpretation of the relationship between D.H. Lawrence and Louie Burrows - opens to an imposing stairway which provides a home for several older paintings. The stairs themselves are covered with a lead carpeting, laid down in 1844 and replaced in 1983. 
Painting of the 1st Duke of Richmond
A skylight illuminates the space and allows guests to appreciate the landing's 18th century design, with a gallery façade adorned with cherubs, shells and dogs.

Imposing double doors greet us on the first floor. Opposite them, a table of books, a sign that this is not a museum or stately home but a working library.

Open the doors and the magic really happens. Around 40,000 books line walls that could tell their own stories.

This is where the fiction is housed. Where a Marcel Proust can be found beneath a James Patterson. It's a bibliophile's paradise, but the sight and smell of books is only the half of it. There's a history here that's palpable. I expect to find Robert Langdon or Indian Jones searching for a secret code that will reveal the meaning of life. The great inventor Michael Faraday's name can be seen in an old visitor's book but this more a record of Nottingham's own intellectual heritage. One past member is the scientist and mathematician George Green, a father of quantum physics. He called Bromley House his first university. The library still attracts guests from the city's two Universities, as well as the British Sundial Society who peruse the shelves for information on modern sundial theory, scratch dials, stone circles and astronomy.
The room is brimming with original features, including shutters that are still closed every night as they would have been back in the mid 18th century. 
While looking out over the garden you might notice a seat with the inscription 'for the use of twitchers’. The case contains binoculars, ideal for checking on the garden's wildlife.

The spiral staircase was added in 1857
An elegant spiral staircase leads up to a gallery filled with earlier fiction and ‘miscellanies’. During my visit, local school children were being guided - "one at a time please" - down the stairs, awe on their faces.

There are many books of interest to local historians, topographical works and a wide selection of 19th and early 20th-century novels. In recent years the collection's emphasis has been on biographies, travel books and new novels. New books are bought regularly and members' requests are considered for purchase.


Off the main library are several wonderful rooms, the finest of which is the Neville Hoskins Reading Room, the town house's front room. The extravagant mouldings, such as found on the rococo style plaster ceiling, ornate cornices and overmantels, were fashioned by highly talented craftsmen.

The painting over fireplace is by John Rawson Walker. He painted it to pay for his share in the library. The painting depicts the Nottingham poet and hymn writer Henry Kirk-White.
At first glance the Standfast Library room looks like a coffee shop. People sat around in comfortable leather armchairs supping, whilst having a natter or browsing the many daily rags that are available for members to read. Then you notice the fine clocks, barometers, and, incredibly, a working meridian line. A small hole in the upper left of a window sends a beam of light along the brass strip on the floor at precisely true solar noon. It was used to set the clocks of Nottingham in days before standard time.
The George Green Room (named after the aforementioned mathematician of Green’s Mill)
The room hosts regular meetings including a weekly gathering of volunteers who repair and restore old books. 

On the top floor of the library is another special room; a studio that operated as the first photographic studio in Nottingham, from 1841 to 1955. A venue where many of Nottingham’s more wealthy 19th century families had their likenesses taken.

Nottingham’s first professional photographer, Alfred Barber, put in a skylight at his own expense, a circular and glass structure incorporating a cog wheel mechanism that could follow the passage of the sun. Some traces of his equipment can still be seen.
The library's theology section can now be found in the attic, containg a large collection of Victorian sermons.
At the rear of the library is a secret garden, a haven in the heart of the city.

The charm of the Georgian building is enhanced by the hidden Victorian garden with its tall trees, one of only two remaining town gardens in the city. It's a tranquil setting for members to use.

The theme of 'time' continues outdoors with a heliochronometer (a sophisticated sundial).

The library is accepting new members. Annual membership subscription is £80 and membership forms are available from the library by phone, email or in person. Two referees are required. Prospective members can attend one of their prospective members' events to get a flavour of the library and what membership offers. 

tel. 0115 9473134

Opening times and further information can be found on their website 

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Ship of Fools: Stories from the Mental Health Front Line

For your consideration:
Nottingham’s Rod Madocks spent twenty years working as a mental health professional, including time in maximum security institutions. With his dark and authentic debut, No Way to Say Goodbye, Madocks called on those experiences and, interweaving photographs with chilling prose that took ten years to complete, produced a novel worthy of its short-listing by the Crime Writers Association for the John Creasey Dagger Award.

A policy officer in Mental Health Commissioning, the author has returned to his work experiences to pen a collection of twenty short stories, one for each year he has worked in the mental health system.
The new book is called Ship of Fools: Stories from the Mental Health Front, and its tag line: It's not the patients you should worry about. It's the staff you should watch out for.

Whilst the stories are fictional, they are clearly based on the real world of psychiatry and institutions, and are written from the point of view of a staff member.

This new collection has been described as ‘Intense and exhilarating with writing that is wryly comic and clear-eyed’.

Ship of Fools is published by Five Leaves.

Here’s a LINK

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Over 55s Notts Writing Competition. Deadline March 30th

Short Story Competition for Nottinghamshire Residents Aged 55 and over

Not long left to enter your stories (2,000-5,000 words). Closing date for entries: Sat March 30th, 2013

The best-selling crime writer Stephen Booth will join the Mayor of Gedling in presenting the awards and anthologies to the finalists on Sunday 14th July at the Gedling Book Festival 2013.

A paperback anthology of the best 20 entries will be published with the finalists each receiving a free copy of the book.

Cover Design by Cathy Helms at

Finalists will be notified in the first week of June, 2013.
1st Prize:
£50 cash

Other prizes to be announced in due course.

You can download an Application Form and the Full Rules via THIS LINK

Entries should be emailed in Word format to
However, should that not be possible, they can accept typed or written entries, which should be posted to:

New Writers UK,
PO Box 9310,

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Anne Zouroudi - free event

Anne Zouroudi

2pm, Tuesday 26th March, Nottingham Central Library
A talk by best selling author Anne Zouroudi.

Anne will be speaking about her acclaimed “Greek Detective” series set in the beautiful landscapes of Greece.

Her detective, Hermes is tasked with bringing justice where there is none, and righting wrongs whose roots are sometimes buried deep, but he himself remains a mystery. On whose authority does he act? And how does he know of dramas played out long ago?

Anne’s work has received wide critical acclaim. She was shortlisted for theITV3 Crime Thriller Award 2008 for Breakthrough Authors, and The Messenger of Athens was longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize 2008 for first novels with word of mouth appeal.

“Anne Zouroudi writes beautifully – her books have all the sparkle and light of the island landscape in which she sets them.” 

Alexander McCall Smith

Please ask at the Central Library Helpdesk for a free ti
cket or telephone 0115 9152825.

Ask me more about Brecht: Eisler in conversation with Bunge

Ask me more about Brecht

13 March at the University Park Campus Arts Centre Lecture Theatre (A30)
You are welcome to attend a musical cultural literary performance in English by Sabine Berendse and Paul Clements, entitled ‘Ask me more about Brecht: Hanns Eisler in conversation with Hans Bunge’.

Enjoy the Show!

Bertolt Brecht was one of the leading German dramatists and poets of the twentieth century. The composer Hanns Eisler was Brecht’s most politically committed collaborator and is one of the most fascinating and controversial composers of the twentieth century. The composer, a student of Arnold Schoenberg, combined avant-garde music with popular culture and revolutionary politics. His songs, longstanding ballads of the German left and his arrangement of the concentration-camp inmates’ song ‘Die Moorsoldaten’ (‘The Peat-Bog Soldiers’) became an anthem of anti-fascist resistance.
Between 1958 until shortly before his death in 1962, Eisler was interviewed by Hans Bunge. These recorded conversations are intriguing, entertaining and informative personal reflections on half a century of artistic and political turbulence. Sometimes hilarious and at other times moving, they provide an insight into Eisler’s political ideas and his thoughts on the social significance of music; his opposition to Hitler and subsequent exile; his friendship with Bertolt Brecht and their collaboration; the encounter with the McCarthy-era House Un-American Activities Committee; and artistic, political and intellectual life in the German Democratic Republic.
Berendse and Clements recently finished the first complete translation into English of these conversations. During this event, you will see a dramatic reconstruction of extracts from the conversations and hear recorded words and music from Eisler himself. 
Sponsored by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).