PREVIOUSLY at WEST HAMPSTEAD LIBRARY
Since the formation of FoWHL in 1998 a number of authors, actors, journalists and performers have been invited to speak at the library, starting with novelist Doris Lessing, agony aunt Anna Raeburn and actor and author Stephen Fry, all of whom were then resident in West Hampstead and kindly agreed to become patrons of FoWHL.
In October 2020 we were throughly entertained by journalist, author and playwright Julie Welch, who regaled us with tales of life as a female reporter on male-dominated Fleet Street in the 1980s. Do check out her book 'The Fleet Street Girls'.
In July 2020, in our first ever Zoom event, Alexis Leighton and Helen Tierney told the largely unknown story of France Hodgson Burnett, author of The Secret Garden.
Pre-lockdown, in March 2020 local author Anthony McGowan spoke about his new new book, How to Teach Philosophy to your Dog, in the company of said dog (a first for FoWHL!).
Earlier in the season we enjoyed two London-themed events. In November 2019 historian Philip Parker, came to talk to us about his new book, The A-Z History of London, while in April BBC London's Robert Elms discussed the changing face of the capital as chronicled in his new book, London Made Us – a Memoir of a Shape Shifting City.
In July 2019 photographer Tim Mitchell revealed the theories people have put forward to explain the presence of so many parakeets in the capital, in his book The Parekeeting of London, while apiarist Alison Benjamin, author of The Good Bee and How to Save Them gave us advice on how we can all do our bit to save these amazing creatures in our midst.
In November 2018 the writer, broadcaster and poker player, Victoria Coren Mitchell, was our guest. Our patron Jim Carter posed the questions. The room was full. There was much laughter, and many a fond memory of Victoria's late father, Alan Coren.
In October 2018 Science Editor of The Times Tom Whipple told us some extraordinary tales from his research into gender and modern sexuality, summarised in his popular science book X and Y.
In May 2018 author Caitlin Davies talked about the inmates of Holloway Prison. In April Financial Times journalist John Lloyd offered a robust defence of the modern day press, saying that there was nothing new about fake news, that investigative journalism is actually thriving on various platforms, and that he did not believe there should be any state controls of the media.
In December 2017, our guest was the actor Derek Jacobi (as reported here). In October 2017, songwriter and musician, and now West Hampstead resident Graham Gouldman regaled the Friends with stories of his youth in Manchester and the influence of his father Hymie – who gave Graham the line 'No Milk Today' and 'Art for Art's Sake, Money for God's Sake. Among the songs he played for us were 'Bus Stop' (a hit he wrote for the Hollies), 'For Your Love' and Dreadlock Holiday. Truly, a night to remember.
In July 2017 novelist Linda Grant was our guest, talking about The Dark Circle, her intriguing tale of TB sufferers in post war Britain. In May 2017, local historian Dick Weindling treated us to an extraordinary series of tales concerning sundry oddball residents in our area during the First World War. For more on the Kaiser's Spies in West Hampstead, click here.
In February we had a full house for an evening of anecdotes and Downton Abbey stories with local actor and longtime FoWHL supporter Jim Carter. For a full report of this truly memorable evening, click here.
We had another full house in December 2016 when the FoWHL Players, accompanied by the Occasional Choir, treated us to a series of Season's Readings; some hilarious, some poignant, plucked from the bookshelves. The readers were locals actors Michael Simkins and Julia Deakin, joined by one of the stars of West Hampstead, actress and Celebrity Masterchef winner Sophie Thompson. Adding their voices to this wonderful evening were singers Phyllida Hancock, Marie Louise Clark and Andrew Frank.
In October 2016, our Writer in Residence Ted Booth combined with FoWHL member Flick Rea to put on an excellent evening of works by Hampstead Poets. A report of the evening from the West Hamptead Life website can be seen here.
Before then, in September 2016, our guest was the author Kate Summerscale, who talked about her books The Wicked Boy and The Suspicions of Mr Whicher, and in general about the Victorian public's fascination with detectives and murder cases. In July, our guest was the author and film-maker Iain Sinclair, who discussed his latest book London Overground – A Day's Walk Around the Ginger Line in front of an attentive capacity crowd. For a report of the evening from our friends at West Hampstead Life click here
In June 2016 we were joined by non-ficton writer Simon Garfield, who spoke about his book, A Notable Woman, the diaries of Jean Lucey Pratt. You can read a report on the evening by our own Writer in Residence, Ted Booth, here.
Our other guests since have included Times columnist David Aaronovitch, TV historian Michael Wood, children's author John Burningham, novelists Fay Weldon and Zadie Smith, theatre director Jude Kelly (who at the time, in 2002, was setting up an arts space called Metal, in the former Metropolitan Line station office on Broadhurst Gardens), local historians Dick Weindling and Marianne Colloms, Stephen Russell, aka The Barefoot Doctor, the author and historian Judith Flanders (who read from her study The Victorian House), and the railway historian and campaigner, Christian Wolmar (who told amazing tales of London's subterranean railways).
FoWHL has also received terrific support from locally-based actors, forming themselves into an ad hoc troupe known as the FoWHL Players. Among their esteemed ranks have featured Imelda Staunton, Jim Carter, Sophie Thompson, Phyllida Law, Edward Petherbridge, Emily Richard, Tracey Ann Oberman, Michael Simkins, Michael Jenn and Paul Brightwell.
Our gallery above recalls some of the highlights. To find out more click on any of the images above.
AT OTHER CAMDEN LIBRARIES
For details of events in other Camden libraries keep an eye on the noticeboards both inside and outside the library.
PREVIOUSLY AT FOWHL EVENTS:
As Mark Dickens told us via Zoom – this was in the middle of lockdown in December 2021 – he led a busy and fulfilled life, in the Navy, in submarines, naval intelligence, as a school bursar and as a Freeman of the City of London. Then one day he found himself at a literary festival in Texas and realised for the first time the global reach of his Great Great Grandfather. Since then, as the head of a family with descendants scattered around the world, Mark has immersed himself in the life and work of Charles Dickens. This has led him to senior roles at the Dickens Museum in Doughty Street, the International Dickens Fellowship and the illustrious City Pickwick Club.
The best day of Julie Welch's professional life, she recalled, was sharing a limo from Crystal Palace's football ground to Fleet Street with her childhood hero, Danny Blanchflower. Though tongue-tied, it hardly mattered because the Irishman talked non-stop the whole way back to Fleet Street. Later that day she learnt that her old boarding school had burnt down. 'Every schoolgirls' dream,' as Julie put it!
Ignoring advice never to work with children or animals, local author and teen-fiction novelist Anthony McGowan spoke eloquently and amusingly about Aristoltle, Kant and Nietzsche in the company of his dog, Monty, who behaved impeccably throughout.– unlike Schopenhauer, whose philosophy, Anthony told FoWHL Chair David Stevenson, was as grim as his personality. If you missed the event, Anthony's book How to Teach Philosophy to Your Dog, should be available on the shelves at West Hampstead soon or via West End Lane Books. Photo by Janet Nabney),
In conversation with FoWHL Patron Jim Carter, the writer, broadcaster and ace poke player Victoria Coren Mitchell kept us all entertained with a string of stories about her early life in Cricklewood, her poker games in seedy dives (okay, mostly St John's Wood and Finchley) and her attempts at stand up comedy. She partly summarised her success as a victory for the nerds, a triumph for misfits. Thanks to both Jim 'n' Vic for a rollicking evening!
Caitlin Davies (above) grew up near to Holloway Prison and always wondered about the inmates. In her new book 'Bad Girls – a history of Rebels and Renegades' she found out who they were, and why most of them should never have been locked up. Click here for a full report of another engrossing evening at West Hampstead Library.
Can we trust the news? That was the question posed by former BBC Radio reporter and FoWHL Committee member David Stevenson (left) in conversation with John Lloyd of the Financial Times and the Reuters Institute of Journalism at Oxford University. The evening attracted another capacity crowd to West Hampstead Library (below), including several local journalists, media students and academics. (Photos by Janet Nabney)
FoWHL celebrated its 20th anniversary at the AGM on February 15. For a report of the evening, click here.
FoWHL Patron Jim Carter (right) proved an able and amiable host on December 5 when Sir Derek Jacobi, who has recently moved to West Hampstead, regaled a full house with stories from his long career on stage, film and TV. Read the report here.
A packed audience tapped their toes and sang along as songwriter Graham Gouldman regaled FoWHL with stories of his youth in Manchester and his path to success via the Yardbirds, the Hollies and 10cc.
Read the full report here. (photo by Janet Nabney)
Ted Booth signed off from his duties as FoWHL's first ever Writer in Residence with an entertaining and moving selection of his favourite prose and poetry in September. If you missed the evening and want to know what readings Ted and his co-star Flick Rea chose, please click here (photo by Janet Nabney)