Famous writers promote reading in Tower Hamlets

Authors Michael Rosen and Dorian Lynskey pic: Write idea 2011

Former Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen will be among a cast of leading writers and performers taking part in Tower Hamlets Council’s reading festival this November.

The Writeidea Festival, now in its third year, will be held at Idea Stores and libraries across the borough between November 11 and 19 in a series of events all free to the public. Organisers hope the festival will encourage a love of reading and writing among adults and children by showcasing successful local writers.

The festival will include lectures, debates, discussions, advice from writers, live music and a storytelling workshop.

On the opening day historian and author Louise Raw will speak at the Idea Store in Whitechapel on her book ‘Striking a Light’, about the women matchworkers’ strike of 1888 which was published earlier this year. The event, which took place at the Bryant and May’s factory in Bow, was a significant victory in the fight for workplace rights.

Following on from this, writers William Nicholson and Alex Wheatle will discuss whether social class is an issue in fiction at the Idea Store, Canary Wharf at 7pm.on November 14.

Nicholson, who has won Oscar nominations for his screenplays for ‘Gladiator’ and ‘Shadowlands’, says “it’s the readers who rule the world, so anything the council can do to get people reading is good”.

Women in crime fiction is the subject of a talk by celebrated novelist Dreda Say Mitchell on Tuesday November 15. The 45 year-old crime writer was inspired by her experience of growing up on a council estate in Tower Hamlets to write about the lives of ordinary people – and in her own words “especially the temptations around crime” faced by the youth of today.  She will provide insights into her work which sees streetwise women plunged into a male-dominated milieu.

Continuing the theme of challenging societal norms, music writer Dorian Lynskey will hold a discussion around her book ’33 Revolutions per Minute’, looking at the historical and political context in which famous protest songs were written.

The festival’s finale will take place on November 19 with a workshop for children aged 6-11 with a workshop by Michael Rosen at the Idea Store in Whitechapel. For the former Children’s Laureate, who wants to both make poetry more accessible to children and encourage their own writing to flourish, the secret to improving literacy levels is “to find a voice that children find interesting or exciting”.

Rosen, whose parents once lived in Tower Hamlets, said his passion for writing emerged as a child and many of the places in the borough, such as Whitechapel Library and Bethnal Green Museum hold ‘a great importance’ for him.


Written by: Ismini M Aliverti

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