Recent News & Events


Christmas Party 2017

The London Library, 14th December 2017

IFLL Christmas Party 2017

A night full of festive cheer was had at The London Library, as the Reading Room underwent is seasonal transformation from one of the quietest and most studious spots in London to one filled with guests and voices regaling fine winter tales. The evening was hosted by Sir Tim Rice, the Library’s new President, and was run in partnership with Harrods.

2017 was a fantastic year for the Library and the evening was one in celebration of both our new President and a new Director, Philip Marshall. Guests were treated to readings from William Boyd, Lord Paul Boateng, Victoria Hislop, Simon Callow and Edna O’Brien, who herself was celebrating her 50th year as a Library Member.

A Tale of Two Libraries

Boston Athenaeum, 19th September 2017

Purnell & Hagberg WrightA few years ago John Spurdle, Chairman of the International Friends of The London Library, and Mark Storey, then the Treasurer of the Library visited the Boston Athenaeum.   After a very useful conversation on Library matters, the Athenaeum’s conservator, Carolle Morini, invited Mark and John to look at something from their archives.  Laid out was a correspondence between The London Library and the Boston Athenaeum spanning over 30 years from 1913 to 1945.

With a feeling that these letters merited a wide audience, the Library commissioned Jesse Marquese, a New York director who had staged a wonderful celebration of T.S. Eliot for the Library, to turn the letters into a staged reading.  Jesse then assembled a cast comprising of Simon Jones (Bridie in the original televised Brideshead Revisited, Arthur Dent in The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy and past Library member), alongside Julian Elfer, Michael Frederic and Peggy J Scott and performances were given at the Boston Athenaeum on the 19th September 2017 and in New York two days later.

Celebrating Tom Stoppard

22nd June 2017, London Library Reading Room

The London Library Summer Party, held on 22nd June, was a fitting occasion to celebrate Tom Stoppard’s 15 years as President of the Library. Guests joined forces in the Reading Room to hear Vanessa Redgrave, Sheila Hancock, Jeremy Irons, Natascha McElhone and Joely Richardson deliver a range of readings, including works by TS Eliot, Stephen Spender and AG Madonell among others*.

The Library’s Chairman, Howard Davies, and former Chairman Bill Emmott were on hand to thank Tom for the outstanding and tireless contribution he has made over the last 15 years to support and develop the Library.

Victoria: a very special evening with Daisy Goodwin

Tuesday 17th January 2017, 6.30pm, The Knickerbocker Club, 2 East 62nd St, New York

goodwincrop4Victoria – the acclaimed new series about the life of the young Queen Victoria – premiered on PBS on January 15th. We were delighted to welcome writer and producer Daisy Goodwin talking to the IFLL about the series she has created and the role The London Library played in its development. Find out more about a fascinating evening.

Christmas Party 2016

1st December 2016

party-montage-3The Reading Room underwent a miraculous transformation from hallowed centre of learning to spectacular party venue as guests joined host Sir Tom Stoppard for this year’s London Library Christmas Party, run in partnership with Harrods, the world’s most famous department store.

2016 marks our 175th anniversary and as part of the celebration, guests were treated to readings from Edward Fox, Anna Chancellor, Bill Paterson and Joely Richardson in the Library’s beautiful Reading Room. Harrods made sure the party ran in style, providing their luxurious, festive food and drink throughout the evening, and setting the scene with the celebrated Harrods vintage van parked outside in St. James’s Square!

Private Tour – Paul Nash Collection, Tate Britain

Friday 4th November 2016, 9.00

A private tour of the largest collection of Nash’s work for a generation, including his iconic First World War paintings and his Surrealist works.

Tour of the Royal Astronomical Society Archives

The Royal Astronomical Society in Burlington House, London, holds a world-class collection of books and manuscripts in astronomy. Founders’ Circle members were privileged to have a private tour of the beautiful library and some of the archive’s treasures, including a 1652 edition of ‘Starry Messenger’ by Galileo Galilei, which was the first publication to be based on data from a telescope when first produced in 1610. We also viewed a collection of beautifully-illustrated and quirky Victorian cards showing the constellations, pinpricked to mark the location of the stars, and an extremely rare first edition of De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium (1543) by Nicolaus Copernicus, one of the most important works in the history of astronomy in which Copernicus proposed that all the planets orbit around the Sun.

Talk at the Preview of Frieze Masters, London

Founders’ Circle members were invited to the exclusive preview of Frieze Masters, a leading international art fair. The evening featured an informal talk for Founders’ Circle members by Dr Sandra Hindman, Founder and Owner of Des Enluminures and Dr Christopher De Hamel, Librarian of the Parker Library, Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, who revealed highlights from their special collection of manuscripts from the Middle Ages and Renaissance.

In The Picture with Sotheby’s Specialist Philip Hook

Tuesday 14th June 2016, 6.15-8.00pm, The London Library

An informal and fun romp through the ten questions you need to ask to establish the value of a painting with leading art expert and writer Philip Hook, Senior international Specialist in Impressionist and Modern Art at Sotheby’s and former expert on BBC Antiques Road Show.

The Annual Chairman’s Lunch

Sir Howard Davies, Chairman of The London Library, invited all members of the Founders’ Circle to join him for an intimate lunch at Coutts and the Royal Bank of Scotland in London. It was a wonderful opportunity for members to meet Sir Howard, who became the Library’s Chair of Trustees in 2015. Sir Howard told us about his love for the Library, and gave an insight into the organisation’s strategic priorities for the year ahead.

Faber & Faber Archive

FaberWednesday 24th February 2016, Bloomsbury House, 74-77 Great Russell Street, London

Members of The London Library Founders’ Circle had the rare opportunity too see material from the Faber & Faber Archive. From Geoffrey Faber’s editorial table, archivist Robert Brown took us on a tour of Faber’s history and some little-seen documents including book reports by T.S. Eliot and letters from Ezra Pound and Ted Hughes.

With David Starkey at the Society of Antiquaries

Thursday 31st March 2016, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London

Founders’ Circle members were recently able to experience the historic Society of Antiquaries in the company of our guide and guest of honour historian David Starkey. In his company, Heather Rowland, the Head of Library and Collections, showed us round some of the library’s extraordinary treasures.

London Library  19The London Library Christmas Party

Thursday 3 December 2015; The London Library, 14 St James’s Square, London, SW1Y 4LG

Sir Tom Stoppard invited Founders’ Circle members to celebrate the festive season with fellow Founders and friends of the Library in the beautiful candle-lit Reading Room. Guests enjoyed drinks and canapés whilst listening to a selection of winter readings by special guests John Hurt, Celia Imrie and Richard E. Grant.

This evening is a highlight of the Library calendar, bringing friends and fellow literature supporters together.

jmc - cropThe V & A National Art Library and Julia Margaret Cameron Exhibition

Monday 30 November 2015, The Victoria & Albert Museum, London

Julia Margaret Cameron is considered one of the most significant photographers of the 19th century and her work has featured in a recent Victoria & Albert Museum exhibition of over 100 works from the V&A archive. The Victoria & Albert Museum’s Curator, Marta Weiss, recently gave Founders’ Circle members a private tour through this retrospective exhibition and delved into the fascinating photography collection held in the V&A’s National Art Library.

Homage to TS Eliot at Wilton’s Music HallHomage to T.S. Eliot

7.30pm, Tuesday 17 November  2015, Century Association, 7 West 43rd Street, New York

T.S. Eliot loved The London Library.  He joined whilst still a banker in 1918.  On becoming President in 1952, the only American to hold the position, he gave a speech that talked about the importance of the Library as “performing a service to English civilization.”  He died in office in 1965.

A group of his friends decided to put together an evening to honor him at the Globe Theatre in London.  It was quite a night! Stravinsky did the music, along with the Choir of Westminster Abbey, Henry Moore did the decor, W.H. Auden picked the poems to be read.  The actors reading included Peter O’Toole, Ian Richardson, Paul Scofield, Lawrence Olivier, and a surprise American guest, Groucho Marx, who was a good pal of Eliot’s!  

Fifty years on, the IFLL was delighted to welcome Cynthia Harris, Christine Baranski, Katie Firth, Rob Breckenridge, Tony Roach and David Staller in an evening of readings celebrating the work of T.S. Eliot. 

No More ChampagneNo More Champagne

Wednesday 11 November 2015, The Churchill Centre, British Embassy Residence, Washington DC

No More Champagne: Churchill and his Money tells the fascinating story of Churchill’s lifetime of tangled personal finances.

In this talk for the US Founders’ Circle, author and London Library Trustee, David Lough, discussed his new book, No More Champagne, which reveals the financial highs and lows of Sir Winston Churchill – who joined the Library in his wilderness years and became vice-President in 1948. As David describes in his blog and in a fascinating interview filmed in The London Library Times room, Churchill was a profligate spender and teetered on the brink of bankruptcy before wartime fame, friends and film rights restored his position as a multi-millionaire.

Lambeth_PalaceLambeth Palace Library

6.30-8.30pm, Tuesday 10 November 2015, Lambeth Palace, London

Librarian and Archivist Giles Mandelbrote revealed some of the treasures of the collection held at Lambeth Palace Library; including 9th century illuminated manuscripts, early printed books and the archives of the Archbishops of Canterbury. The visit for Founders’ Circle Members included a trip up the medieval spiral staircase to the conservation studio in Morton’s Tower.

Untitled-1The London Library AGM

Tuesday 3 November 2015, The Reading Room, The London Library, London

The London Library’s 174th AGM was held on 3 November 2015 in London. The meeting was the first to welcome Sir Howard Davies, the incoming Chairman of Trustees, and President Sir Tom Stoppard offered thanks to the outgoing Chairman, Bill Emmott, who steps down after almost seven years in the post.

 T.S. Eliot Fifty Years on

Homage to TS Eliot at Wilton’s Music Hall

Homage to TS Eliot at Wilton’s Music Hall

Wednesday 21 October 2015, Wilton’s Music Hall, London

Jeremy Irons, Fiona Shaw, Simon Russell Beale, Sinéad Cusack and Ben Whishaw came together for a special performance at Wilton’s Music Hall in London to celebrate the work of T.S. Eliot and help raise funds for The London Library where T.S. Eliot had been President for 13 years up to his death in 1965. Staged by Deborah Warner, the evening featured readings from some of Eliot’s best-loved works, including The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, Little Gidding, The Waste Land, The Hollow Men and Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats.

Made possible with the kind assistance of the T.S. Eliot Estate the evening was designed to reflect the special Homage to T.S. Eliot show held fifty years ago, where leading lights of the day came together in a celebrated performance for The London Library which included Laurence Olivier, Peter O’ Toole, Paul Scofield and Eliot’s friend Groucho Marx.