We're raring up for Hearth

We're raring up for Hearth

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The perfect weekend for writers and readers is on its way!

Over the weekend of 6th – 7th February we welcome four wordsmiths to sit beside the fire in the Gladstone Room and share their stories. Before the storms and shivering of winter (hopefully) give way to spring sunshine, the Library is hosting our two-day micro-festival for the fifth time with a whole new range of guests.

Our previous speakers have included James Runcie (The Grantchester Mysteries), Melissa Harrison (Clay, At Hawthorn Time) and Jessie Burton (The Miniaturist), and this time we welcome a few more to chat about their creative process and their work.

Hearth is an opportunity to meet, talk and create with four authors over a weekend of writing-related activity. Read on to find out more about those joining us this February, and visit our dedicated page for more details including times.

If you’re inspired to read the works of these authors, we will be selling copies at Hearth and also long before then in Gladbooks, our bookshop by Reception.

Gulwali Passarlay & David Loyn

By just 12 years old, Gulwali Passarlay had been shot at, imprisoned three times, tortured and almost drowned in a sickeningly overcrowded boat as he fled the violence of the Afghan war. When he reached Britain, it was the final of around 200 attempts to stow away across the Channel. Gulwali excelled at school, earning 10 GCSEs in just two years of secondary education and achieving a place at Manchester University to study politics and philosophy. Gulwali is now 21 and is an Education Youth Ambassador, a Model Westminster Ambassador, a Young Labour representative, president of the United Afghan Peace Movement, and aspires to a career in diplomacy, and ultimately the presidency of Afghanistan. In 2012 he bore the Olympic Torch through Bolton. His book, The Lightless Sky, is a memoir of his experiences written with award-winning journalist and presenter Nadene Ghouri.

 ‘His powerful account is a testament to the courage of all those fleeing conflict in search of safety' - read The Independent’s review of The Lightless Sky here.

Check out Gulwali’s website.

Gulwali will be interviewed by former BBC journalist and the author of Butcher and Bolt – Two Hundred Years of Foreign Engagement in Afghanistan, David Loyn.

David has reported from many parts of the world, particularly South Asia, and was based in Kabul for two years until July 2015. He was the only foreign journalist with the Taliban when they took Kabul in 1996. Among many awards he has been the Sony Radio Reporter of the Year, and Royal Television Society Journalist of the Year. His first book Frontline – the true story of the mavericks who changed the face of news reporting was shortlisted for the Orwell prize in 2005. 

Rebecca Farmer

Rebecca is a poet currently reading her MPhil/PhD at the prestigious Goldsmiths. Her pamphlet ‘Not Really’ was a winner in the 2013/14 Poetry Business Book and Pamphlet Competition judged by Carol Ann Duffy. The poetry in Not Really is sad and thoughtful, delving into the depths of sorrow and pulling out beauty.  Join her as she reads from it around the Hearth fire.

Rebecca will take up her position as one of the Library’s Writers in Residence in early 2016 and lead a masterclass on writing on 13th February, open to those of all abilities.

‘The poems are personal and engaging. Reviewers often overuse the phrase 'deceptively simple,' but I think in Farmer's case it's more a case of the poems being straightforward and honest. The ghosts in Farmer's poetry allow her to explore different elements of grief and bereavement.’ - Maria Taylor, Under the Radar

‘Farmer aims to unsettle us so as to make us consider our own lives afresh, and she succeeds throughout her pamphlet. Read it if you dare!’ - Matthew Stewart, Rogue Strands 

Natasha Pulley

Natasha’s beautiful, fast-paced and imaginative debut, The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, is an international bestseller and a Publisher’s Weekly Book of 2015. She studied English Literature at Oxford University, and after stints working at Waterstones, and at Cambridge University Press as a Publishing Assistant, she pursued a Creative Writing MA at the University of East Anglia. She has recently returned from Tokyo, where she lived for 19 months on a scholarship from the Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation. Victorian London and Meiji Japan may be an unusual combination, but Natasha weaves them masterfully together in her novel and explores the links between the two in her talk at Hearth. She will also be one of our Writers in Residence, living and writing at Gladstone’s Library in February and teaching a masterclass on register, voice and genre on the 27th.

‘…elegant plotting, lashings of invention and jump-off-the-page characterisation…The Watchmaker of Filigree Street is a charming and quietly profound disquisition on predestination, chance and fate.’ – Eric Brown, the Guardian

‘Intricate, charming, and altogether surprising’: read what Helene Wecker at The New York Times thought here.

Dan Richards

Dan was born in Wales, grew up in Bristol and studied at UEA and Norwich Arts School. He is co-author with Robert Macfarlane and Stanley Donwood of Holloway, a work of nature-writing. His extraordinary memoir, The Beechwood Airship Interviews, chronicles his quest to build an airship in his art school bar, which led him to meet and interview some of Britain’s most outstanding artists, craftsmen and technicians in their workspaces. He spoke to Stewart Lee, Robert McFarlane, the Manic Street Preachers and even Dame Judi Dench, amongst others, in his exploration of art and what compels us to create. Dan will explore the creative process in an interactive talk on the Sunday of Hearth.

‘A wonderful, serious jigsaw’ – read the Guardian’s review of The Beechwood Airship Interviews here.


Tickets are priced at £32.50 for one day which includes lunch or dinner on your chosen day and entry to Saturday evening's panel discussion.

You can purchase weekend tickets for £55 which includes all Hearth events and meals.

Alternatively, tickets per event are priced at £12 each (includes free entry to the panel discussion).

To book your tickets, please call 01244 532350 or email enquiries@gladlib.org.

Kirsten-Rose Brooks, Intern