The Blagger's Guide To: Liverpool literature
World Book Night highlights the quality of Mersey
Saturday 20 April 2013
For the first time in its three-year history, World Book Night's main event is taking place outside London. Liverpool has been chosen to host Tuesday evening's celebrations, which will be held in and around St George's Hall in a collaboration between World Book Night, the BBC and Liverpool City Council. The night will also launch Liverpool's brand new literary festival, In Other Words, in which 350 events will take place all over the city until 19 May.
Next door to St George's Hall is the Liverpool Central Library, which will be re-opened on 17 May after a major restoration project. The building was closed to the public in 2010, and it took three months to move 40km of fragile and rare collections of library and archive material. It will be relaunched with Wi-Fi, MP3 and MP4 facilities, double the number of public computers, a café and roof terrace … and, fortunately, lots and lots of books.
Tuesday is Shakespeare's birthday. It is also St George's Day in Britain and Catalonia, where men traditionally give women roses to mark the date and women respond by giving a book. On World Book Night, 400,000 copies of 20 books will be given away across the country. Another 100,000 will be distributed to homeless shelters, prisons, hospitals and care homes. The aim is to encourage reading among people who don't have regular access to books.
Authors including Philippa Gregory, Jasper Fforde, Jeanette Winterson, Patrick Ness, and Jackie Kay will be appearing at St George's Hall, along with local author Frank Cottrell Boyce. In and around St George's Hall will be readings, discussions, debates and a literary café and marketplace.
Liverpool is an easy choice as a bookish capital of Britain. It was the European Capital of Culture in 2008, and has a long literary history.
Clive Barker's Weaveworld is based on Liverpool. "I wanted to write a novel in which the world of magic and the world of the real collided," said the author, who was born there. "I also wanted … to write a novel which was both very realistic in its dealings with the fantastical and very mythological in its dealings with the real. So, Liverpool was a world I had enough experience of to attempt something like that. Liverpool has gone through some very bad economic times, and yet it retains a flavour and a poetry. I tried to get that across ..."
Linda Grant grew up in 1960s Liverpool, and used to go to pubs after O-level revision to listen to the Liverpool poets. Her first novel The Cast Iron Shore (1995) begins there. The Liverpool Poets, including Adrian Henri, Roger McGough and Brian Patten, could only really have emerged in such a city – not least because they knew that "grass" rhymes with "ass" and not "arse".
Helen Walsh is one of the 21st century's most famous Liverpool novelists. Her gritty first novel, Brass, was based in the city, and involves drug-taking and prostitution. When the Blagger met Walsh, it emerged that she is secretly from the Wirral.
As one of Liverpool's most famous writers, Beryl Bainbridge wrote surprisingly little about Liverpool, and actually grew up in Formby. Her 1998 Booker-shortlisted novel Master Georgie begins there.
Tickets to the Liverpool launch of World Book Night are free. Go to www.worldbooknight.org for details.
Filming to begin on two new series due to be aired on Dave from next year
TVBBC hopes latest Danish import will spell success
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Which country would be hardest to invade?
- 2 Indonesia executions: Death row British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford will refuse to wear a blindfold when she faces firing squad
- 3 The man who filmed the Freddie Gray video has been arrested at gunpoint
- 4 How the language you speak changes your view of the world
- 5 Uploading pictures to find out how old you are gives Microsoft the right to post them wherever they want
Fifty Shades of Grey movie shows first sex scene 'after 40 minutes'
Avengers: Age of Ultron set to make box office history with $84.5m US opening
London Marathon: Best running songs from Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar to 'Uptown Funk'
The highly NSFW poster for Gaspar Noé's Love makes Nymphomaniac look like 50 Shades
New on Netflix UK May 2015: From Fast & Furious 6 to World War Z and Grace and Frankie
Over 50,000 families shipped out of London boroughs in the past three years due to welfare cuts and soaring rents
EU asylum policy is 'a direct threat to our civilisation', says Nigel Farage
Indonesia executions live: 'Hysterical' families heard prisoners being shot dead by firing squad
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: SNP and its activists 'openly racist' towards the English, Farage says
EU exit would hit UK economy much harder than neighbouring countries, study finds