London Literature Festival

Things to do, Literary events
London Literature Festival
Royal Festival Hall

The London Literature Festival once again fills the Southbank Centre with acclaimed authors, poets, speakers and collaborators for 20 days of wordy events. Celebrating its eleventh year in 2017, the festival will include live readings, talks and workshops from the likes of ‘His Dark Materials’ author Philip Pullman, acclaimed photographer Annie Leibovitz and the Man Booker Prize nominees. This year's festival opens with the 50th birthday of Poetry International, and sets out to explore how literature can remind us of our shared humanity. 

Read our pick of the best things to do at the London Literature Festival 2017

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Tastemaker

I attended this year’s LLF, for the Nelson Mandela event, on a Sunday evening... Nelson Mandela: The Presidential Year’s.

The evening consisted of two parts, readings of Mandela’s speeches, addresses and the like; then a Q&A/debate panel.

The first section of readings were done by a selection of Black British greats such as Adrian Lester and Adjoa Andoh. Some of the content read out, ranged from witty addresses of Mandela to South African Parliament to more sombre speeches made in more challenging circumstances. The broad selection meant that you were given a greater insight into the charm and intelligence exhibited by Mandela during his presidential years.

The second half, the panel, consisted of four more greats, Mandla Langa author of the new instalment of Mandela’s autobiography ‘Dare Not Linger’, Bonnie Greer, Lord Peter Hain and Sello Hatang, CEO of the Nelson Mandela Foundation; chaired by Jon Snow. Reflections were made by all, in the influence of Madiba’s (Nelson Mandela) time as President and wider global citizen. Questions posed by Jon Snow encouraged not just the panel, but the audience too, to reflect on their hopes for the future and world peace and democracy.

The evening was kicked off by Rt. Hon Gordon Brown and rounded off by Ben Okri.

Overall, a wonderfully presented evening, where, aside from the amused laughs of the audience, in which something in Madiba’s memoirs had caused a chuckle, you could have heard a pin drop. If you are anything of a follower of Nelson Mandela, or perhaps not, the evening would have seen you beaming with awe and joy.

A wonderful event for this year’s LLF.

Tastemaker

I've been to the Terry Gilliam's talk, and it was amazing. The whole program of the festival seems amazing and the Royal Festival Hall seems to be the perfect place for this kind of talk: it is big enough – as of course there is a lot of people interested – but still feels intimate. It was also really nice that they were welcoming to hearing impaired people, as there was a sign language interpreter and closed captioning (also helpful for foreign people like me that eventually miss an information or a joke – specially upsetting when the speaker is such a funny person!)