Former Home Secretary leads line up for Lambeth Readers and Writers Festival


Alan Johnson will be speaking about his new novel during the event.


By Rachael Knowles

Former Home Secretary Alan Johnson is one of the speakers at Lambeth’s annual Readers and Writers Festival, starting this Monday.

Bestselling authors Jake Arnott and Mike Gayle will also be amongst the speakers showcasing their talents during the month-long programme of free events.

Alan Johnson will be introducing his first novel at South Lambeth Library on May 14, an autobiography entitled This Boy: A Memoir of a Childhood.

Mr Johnson said: “The book is played out against the background of a vanishing community living in condemned housing, moving from school on the Kings Road and Chelsea in the swinging 60s and becoming a husband and father whilst still in my teens.”

Now in its 10th year, the festival is geared towards those who are passionate about books and the written word, with a host of workshops, screenings, discussions and readings across Lambeth’s libraries.

“The libraries needed to promote more live literature to connect readers with publishing. Our readers really wanted to connect with the books that they love,” said festival organiser Tim O’Dell.

“The Southbank Centre hosted events like this but Lambeth residents would not go.

“Lambeth is quite a poor borough and residents weren’t able to access these events, so we decided to organise something similar in an environment which was familiar to them.”

The festival kicks off with the Brixton Book Jam on 6th May at Brixton’s Hootananny pub, a chance for big names and local writers to get together for book-related entertainment, where anyone is welcome to attend.

Mr O’Dell said: “Our connections with Book Jam were made right from the beginning. They always host such a great night and we fully support everything that they do.”

Other events include Stag and Hen at Brixton Library, a lively discussion to explore writing outside of your own gender and Poetry Parlour, a literature organisation hosting a Waterloo themed poetry evening.

Lambeth’s libraries will also be inviting authors to speak throughout May at their Teen Reading Clubs.

Cabinet member for culture and leisure Sally Prentice said: “The fact that it’s celebrating its tenth birthday this year is a tribute to Lambeth Council’s Library Service who organise the festival.

“You only have to look at the range and calibre of speakers who are coming to see that this is firmly established as a major date in the world of books, writers and readers offering something for everyone.”

For booking and further information call 020 7926 1075 or email [email protected].

 Photo courtesy of catch21productions with thanks.

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