2018 events programme announced!

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Gladstone’s Library is delighted to unveil its programme of events for 2018 including residential courses, evening talks and literary festivals galore.

The Gladstone’s Library programme holds at its core theology; history and current affairs; and nineteenth-century literary culture – the areas that William Gladstone’s collection of books and journals itself centres around. Each year we programme an eclectic range of sessions for study, education and entertainment to fit with these themes, and 2018 is no different. In fact, we think it’s one of the best.

So, read on to discover a flavour of what will be happening at Gladstone’s Library in 2018…


The year begins with a poetic flourish and a number of poetry events, courses and masterclasses. In January we welcome Ian Parks back to Gladstone’s Library to lead two special masterclasses. Explore the ways in which poems begin to emerge in Approaches to Writing Poetry – ideal for beginners or those with a little experience. Or get in touch with your romantic side and learn how to write Love Poetry. Prepare a special something for Valentine’s Day by taking a closer look at the medium of sonnets.


In February we welcome our first Writer in Residence of 2018 to the Library. Polly Atkin is a poet whose debut collection, Basic Nest Architecture, was published by Seren in 2017. She discusses Writing, Illness and Wellbeing in her evening event and leads a masterclass Writing the Body towards the end of the month. And if you fancy a few days on poetry retreat, why not try Judy Brown’s course Make Your Writing Dazzle – What’s in the Poet’s Paintbox? which explores how colour can be used in a poem, the value of light and contrast and how to sketch in words.

Learn more about the Library’s Rare Books and special collections with Librarian Gary Butler who uses the four figures whose statues adorn the Library (St Augustine, Dante, Homer and Joseph Butler) as guides through a thematic exploration of some of the Library’s printed treasures. And for the art fans among you, why not join Adrian Sumner for a lavishly-illustrated course getting to know The Pre-Raphaelites and Their World?


In March we host a retreat which uses wood carvings and music to prompt imaginative reflection on life in Christopher Lewis’s course Cleave the Wood and There I Am, as well as a course which joins up the current scientific views of reality with Christian Theology (Blue Sky God: the Evolution of Science and Christianity). 

Learn more about the History of the Reading Rooms from our very own Director of Collections and Research Louisa Yates.


In April Debbie Lewer returns to run a course considering Art, Faith and Failure before our second Writer in Residence of 2018, Rachel Malik (Miss Boston and Miss Hargreaves), moves in and treats us to an evening event discussing The Historical Novel. Trace a brief history of the genre before turning to its apparently unending contemporary appeal.

To round off the month, Ian Bradley leads two very different courses reassessing Celtic Christianity 25 years on from the publication of his The Celtic Way, and considering The Theology of the Musicals including The Sound of Music, Joseph and Les Misérables.


Cal Flyn (Thicker Than Water) is the Library’s May Writer in Residence. She discusses how human stories can make the Personal Political, telling the story of the Highland Brigade, responsible for the massacre of hundreds of indigenous Australians, and who Cal’s relative was the leader of. She also leads a masterclass using her background as an author and journalist to share skills in Writing Creative Non-Fiction.

And how about Taming Shakespeare? The poet Ben Johnson was uncannily prescient when he declared that Shakespeare was ‘not of an age but for all time’, but why have Shakespeare’s plays endured? And what is it about the idea of Shakespeare that continues to signify good taste? Emma Rees considers.

June – August

In the summer months Lyn Bechtel leads a course considering The Prophets from a Different Perspective and the ever-popular Gladstone Umbrella returns for another year. Donn Mitchell explores what Christians see when they engage with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and our Greek, Hebrew, Welsh and Latin language courses run throughout August.

September – October

In the autumn Gladstone’s Library trustee and author of Just Your Average Muslim Zia Chaudhry returns with his course Understanding Islam, providing an opportunity to ask questions about the religion as well as to use the Library’s Islamic Faith and Culture collection to explore further.

John Lyden and Clive March revisit John’s popular work Film as Religion and reflect further, considering the broader context of how religion and popular culture inter-relate and discussing the advantages and pitfalls of connecting the two.

And Michael Northcott considers Brexit, Trump and the Common Good with reference to the current crisis-ridden nature of democratic decision making in the United Kingdom and the United States.

November – December

To round off the year we welcome our final Writer in Residence, Keggie Carew Keggie’s memoir, Dadland, won the 2017 Costa Biography Award for its spellbinding account of her unorthodox, engaging, complicated father. But writing about a close family member brings with it difficult decisions about what to share. She shares a tale of biography, history and personal anecdote in her evening event Writing Close Family before leading a day masterclass focusing on the skills needed for successful Life-Writing and Memoir.

Alan Cadwallader joins us for a course Liberating the Bible for Contemporary Life, exploring new developments in the study of the New Testament, before giving this year’s Robinson-Spong lecture considering the challenge of material culture to metaphysical readings of the Bible in Digging in the Dirt.

Finally, our Warden Peter Francis round off the year with his ever-popular Film and Theology course with his selection of award-winning titles to be announced!

Booking is now open. To book, call 01244 532350 or email enquiries@gladlib.org.

For the full programme and further information head to our Events Calendar or download a pocket PDF to your device.