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The Folio Academy Sessions

For the third year running, the Folio Prize Foundation and the British Library host some of the world’s finest writers and their guests at a weekend devoted to the art of storytelling.

Over eight sessions, each programmed by a different member of the Folio Prize Academy, the weekend will explore how stories have the power to transform us: how they can impact individuals and effect social change.

 

Day Passes £29 /£18/ £16
Weekend Passes £40 / £32 / £28

All tickets are available through the British Library Box Office

#FolioAcademySessions

SATURDAY 18th JUNE

All the World’s a Story

Kevin Barry, Geoffrey Robertson QC, Tracey Thorn and Cornelia Parker in conversation

Kevin Barry

Kevin Barry

Tracey Thorn

Tracey Thorn

Edward Bishop

Cornelia Parker

Cornelia Parker

Jeff McMillan

Geoffrey Robertson QC

Geoffrey Robertson QC

Saturday 18 June
11.30 – 12.45


£10/£8/£7 – Buy Tickets or buy a Saturday Pass / Weekend Pass
Conference Centre


Every day, each of us hears and constructs stories that help us make sense of the world. Narrative is not solely the preserve of the writer but the very foundation of understanding and communication, giving shape to our frequently shapeless lives. And some of us – for example barristers, politicians, songwriters, artists, journalists – depend on it every day in our work.

Award-winning novelist Kevin Barry, whose most recent work, Beatlebone, won the Goldsmiths’ Prize, opens the weekend with a discussion of narrative in various fields: literature, law, music and art. He is joined by three guests who understand its power: human rights barrister Geoffrey Robertson QC, singer and writer Tracey Thorn and sculptor and artist Cornelia Parker.

Utopia: The Impossible Dream?

Mark Lawson, Richard Francis, Nikita Lalwani and Rupert Thomson

Mark Lawson

Mark Lawson

Richard Francis

Richard Francis

Nikita Lalwani

Nikita Lalwani

Nishant Lalwani

Rupert Thomson

Rupert Thomson

Saturday 18 June
13:45 – 15:00


£10/£8/£7 – Buy Tickets or buy a Saturday Pass / Weekend Pass
Conference Centre


Taking their cue from the library’s Utopia exhibition, our panel will explore the narrative power of the Utopian ideal, and whether it can act as an effective agent – in writing, philosophy and art – for social change.

Writer and broadcaster Mark Lawson is joined by novelist, historian and utopia-expert Richard Francis, and by two acclaimed writers whose work has offered up both utopian and dystopian perspectives on our world: novelist and Liberty trustee Nikita Lalwani, and novelist and memoirist Rupert Thomson.

Not Even Past: Making Stories from History

Tracy Chevalier, Sam Leith and Tom Holland

Tracy Chevalier

Tracy Chevalier

Sam Leith

Sam Leith

Tom Holland

Tom Holland

Saturday 18 June
15:30 – 16:45


£10/£8/£7 – Buy Tickets or buy a Saturday Pass / Weekend Pass
Conference Centre


‘The past is not dead. In fact, it’s not even past.’ William Faulkner understood why so many of the stories we tell are rooted in history. Whether creating fiction or interpreting fact, is ‘writing history’ more about defining where we came from or understanding who we are now?

Tracy Chevalier, author of Girl With a Pearl Earring, is an acclaimed, best-selling writer of historical fiction. She will join Tom Holland, an award-winning historian of works including Rubicon and, most recently, Dynasty. Their discussion will be chaired by Sam Leith, literary editor of the Spectator and author of You Talkin’ To Me? Rhetoric from Aristotle to Obama. Together they will investigate the challenges and rewards of looking forwards by looking back.

The Gap of Time: Shakespeare reimagined

Jeanette Winterson

Jeanette Winterson

Jeanette Winterson

Saturday 18 June
17.45 – 19.00


£10/£8/£7 – Buy Tickets
British Library Foyer (doors open 17.15)


Following her acclaimed international tour, a special opportunity to see one of our most charismatic storytellers on stage in the beautiful surroundings of the British Library’s summer Shakespeare exhibition. Blending dramatic performance and powerful reading, Jeanette Winterson brings to vivid life excerpts from her book, The Gap of Time, a reimagining of The Winter’s Tale – and finds time afterwards to talk about her love of Shakespeare, and cover versions.

‘This was an extraordinary reading. … a one woman theatre show about a book. I’ve actually never seen anything like it’ Review from Auckland Writers Festival 2016 – Metro, New Zealand.

Doors will open at 17.45, and the event will run from 18.00-19.15 followed by a book signing.

Please note: this event is not included in The Folio Academy Sessions day/weekend pass offer.

SUNDAY 19th JUNE

The Very Thought of It: Ideas and Literature

Geoff Dyer, Marina Warner and Lisa Appignanesi

Geoff Dyer

Geoff Dyer

Marina Warner

Marina Warner

Edward Park

Lisa Appignanesi

Lisa Appignanesi

Sunday 19 June
11.30 – 12.45


£10/£8/£7 – Buy Tickets or buy a Sunday Pass / Weekend Pass
Conference Centre


Geoff Dyer, author of works including Jeff In Venice, Death in Varanasi, and Marina Warner, author of Stranger Magic, are two of our most original and distinctive writers, each with a fascination for ideas – not in the abstract, but as they affect lives and instigate change. Both have produced genre-defying works of fiction and nonfiction that explore the connections between imagination and reality, place and identity, story and myth. In this conversation with fellow novelist, academic, and campaigner for free expression, Lisa Appignanesi, they will discuss the future of a literature that dissects and thrives on ideas.

A Place Called Home

Caryl Phillips, Penelope Lively, Glyn Maxwell and Maya Jaggi

Caryl Phillips

Caryl Phillips

Glyn Maxwell

Glyn Maxwell

Penelope Lively

Penelope Lively

Maya Jaggi

Maya Jaggi

Sunday 19 June
13.30 – 14.45


£10/£8/£7 – Buy Tickets or buy a Sunday Pass / Weekend Pass
Conference Centre


Robert Frost wrote that ‘home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in’. What constitutes ‘home’ – who decides what it is, how we create it, who is welcome – has long been a source of fascination for writers and artists; but now, as our world shrinks and people move around it more freely and often less willingly, it has also become an urgent political matter.

The multi-award-winning novelist and playwright, Caryl Phillips, is joined by three others who share his interest: Booker Prize-winner, Penelope Lively; poet, playwright and librettist, Glyn Maxwell; and writer and cultural critic Maya Jaggi.

Narratives of Fear

Evie Wyld, Andrew Michael Hurley, Max Porter and Jonathan Derbyshire

Evie Wyld

Evie Wyld

Max Porter

Max Porter

Andrew Michael Hurley

Andrew Michael Hurley

Johnny Bean

Jonathan Derbyshire

Jonathan Derbyshire

Sunday 19 June
15.15 – 16.30


£10/£8/£7 – Buy Tickets or buy a Sunday Pass / Weekend Pass
Conference Centre


Fear is, arguably, the dominant narrative register of our age. We encounter it every day in the news, in increasingly bellicose political rhetoric and, all too often, in our own lives. It’s commonplace that, to counter it, we turn to stories for comfort and escape. But is it best to look away? Or is it better to face what scares us most by confronting it head on, not least through the art of storytelling?

Evie Wyld, author of Miles Franklin Award-winning All the Birds, Singing, Andrew Michael Hurley, whose The Loney won the 2015 Costa First Novel Prize, and Max Porter, author of Grief is the Thing with Feathers discuss with Financial Times Comments Editor, Jonathan Derbyshire, their fascination with what lies in the darkness.

The Authenticity Paradox: Writing and Truth

Catherine O’Flynn, Sathnam Sanghera, Roger Robinson and Afua Hirsch

Catherine O'Flynn

Catherine O'Flynn

John McQueen

Sathnam Sanghera

Sathnam Sanghera

Roger Robinson

Roger Robinson

Afua Hirsch

Afua Hirsch

Sunday 19 June
17.00 – 18.15


£10/£8/£7 – Buy Tickets or buy a Sunday Pass / Weekend Pass
Conference Centre

This event is presented in association with Spread the Word and Flight 1000


Authenticity in storytelling is highly prized: as readers we like to feel we’re being given special access to the truth. But does this place an unfair burden on those writers who are also expected to speak on behalf of the cultural groups they’re seen to represent? Is there an implicit pressure for them to write in particular voices, on particular subjects and in particular genres?

Examining the paradox of authenticity, our panel includes: author Catherine O’Flynn – whose What Was Lost won the Costa First Novel Prize – journalist, memoirist, and Times columnist Sathnam Sanghera, Trinidadian writer and performer Roger Robinson, and journalist and human rights development worker Afua Hirsch.