Blackwell’s Events

Richard Dawkins Event: Tuesday 17th September, 7pm at the Sheldonian

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Richard Dawkins: An Appetite for Wonder: The Making of a Scientist

We are thrilled to present a very special event at the Sheldonian Theatre in Oxford on Tuesday 17th September at 7pm with Richard Dawkins talking about his autobiography, “An Appetite for Wonder”

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Born to parents who were enthusiastic naturalists, and linked through his wider family to a clutch of accomplished scientists, Richard Dawkins was bound to have biology in his genes. But what were the influences that shaped his life and intellectual development? And who inspired him to become the pioneering scientist and public thinker now famous (and infamous to some) around the world?

In An Appetite for Wonder we join him on a personal journey back to an enchanting childhood in colonial Africa, through an English schooling and then on to Oxford, the catalyst to his life. Vigorous debate in the dynamic Zoology Department unleashes his innate intellectual curiosity, and inspirational mentors together with his own creative thinking ignite the spark that results in his radical new vision of Darwinism, The Selfish Gene.

From innocent child to charismatic world-famous scientist, Richard Dawkins paints a colourful, richly textured canvas of his early life. Honest self-reflection and witty anecdotes are interspersed with touching reminiscences of his family and friends, literature, poetry and songs. We are finally able to understand the private influences that shaped the public man who, more than anyone else in his generation, explained our own origins.

Tickets cost £5 and are available from the Customer Services Department, Blackwell’s Bookshop, Oxford. Alternatively, please telephone 01865 333623 or email events.oxford@blackwell.co.uk

Events in July at Blackwell’s Oxford

Another set of cracking bookshop events in July, music, storytelling, natural history, one of oue very best comic writers and Elizebetah espionage! It would be lovely to see you at any or all of these:

Tuesday 3rd July at 7pm

The Bookshop Band

Blackwell’s Bookshop, 48-51 Broad Street, Oxford

Price: £5

The Bookshop Band write and perform songs inspired by books and the members of the band take it in turns to describe the inspiration for each song. During last year, they have completed 18 author events, and written 36 songs inspired by 21 diverse books.

The band is made up of three British musician/songwriters: Ben Please – part of indie-folk band Urusen who have recently recorded an album with platinum-selling producer Steve Osborne (KT Tunstall, The Happy Mondays, U2, Doves); Poppy Pitt – an artist and sculptor who also tours with her own band, Poppy and Friends; and Beth Porter – has played with Peter Gabriel, currently tours with Eliza Carthy and has recorded for Newton Faulkner, The Unthanks, and Maximo Park.

This promises to be a stunning evening and one that, we are sure, will be talked about for years to come…

Tickets cost £5 and can be obtained by telephoning or visiting the Customer Service Department, Second Floor, Blackwell Bookshop, Oxford. 01865 333623

 

 Thursday 5th July at 7pm

Walking the Landscapes of Britain

Blackwell’s Bookshop, 48-51 Broad Street, Oxford

Price: £2

Philip Hughes will be joining us to discuss Tracks: Walking the Ancient Landscapes of Britain. This book focuses on eleven iconic walks across beautiful ancient areas in Britain, each expressed through Hughes’ artwork in paintings and drawings as well as maps, aerial photographs and short introductions about the surrounding area.

Tickets cost £2 and can be obtained by telephoning or visiting the Customer Service Department, Second Floor, Blackwell Bookshop, Oxford. 01865 333623

 

Saturday 7th July

Alice’s Day

Blackwell’s Bookshop, 48-51 Broad Street, Oxford

Free activities throughout the day – come and join us!

Join us for a day of frabjous activities taking place in our magical children’s department here at Blackwell’s Bookshop from 11am – 5pm. Loose yourself in our all day storytelling of Alice in Wonderland or take part in our Alice trail in the Norrington Room. Be transformed by our face-painting artist or entertained by our comical Alice’s Day musicians. Have a balloon made by our balloon sculptress and get creative with our range of Alice themed craft activities, there’s lots to do for all the family and we hope you can join us!

Alice in Wonderland: The Big Story Read:

We’ll be celebrating the 150th anniversary of the telling of Alice in Wonderland with an all day reading of the story by a range of exciting special guests including children’s authors Sally Nichols, Steve Feasy, Jen Campbell and MG Harris! Drop in to listen to a chapter or stay all day to hear the story in full, join us in celebrating this wonderful occasion. If you are as mad as a hatter and would like to take part as a storyteller, a sign up sheet is on display in the children’s department, please sign up before Alice’s Day to have a guaranteed place

For further information, please telephone our Children’s Department: 01865 333694

 

Friday 13th July at 1.00pm

Lunchtime book signing:

Jasper Fforde / The Woman Who Died a Lot 

This is the new Thursday Next novel from Number One bestselling author Jasper Fforde.

The BookWorld’s leading enforcement officer Thursday Next is four months into an enforced semi-retirement following an assassination attempt. She returns home to Swindon for what you’d expect to be a time of recuperation. If only life were that simple.

Thursday is faced with an array of family problems – son Friday’s lack of focus since his career in the Chronoguard was relegated to a might-have-been, daughter Tuesday’s difficulty perfecting the Anti-Smote shield needed to thwart an angry Deity’s promise to wipe Swindon off the face of the earth, and Jenny, who doesn’t exist.

And that’s not all. With Goliath attempting to replace Thursday at every opportunity with synthetic Thursdays, the prediction that Friday’s Destiny-Aware colleagues will die in mysterious circumstances, and a looming meteorite that could destroy all human life on earth, Thursday’s retirement is going to be anything but easy.

Jasper Fforde traded a varied career in the film industry for staring out of the window and chewing the end of a pencil. He lives and works in Wales and has a passion for aviation.

All are welcome, no booking required, please just come along!

 

Wednesday 18th July at 7pm

Hugh Warwick / The Beauty in the Beast

Blackwell’s Bookshop, 48-51 Broad Street, Oxford

Price: £2

The Beauty in the Beast is a delightful portrait of some of the UK’s best-loved wild animals and birds and the colourful enthusiasts who champion their causes. Meet the water vole-woman from Shropshire, the owl-man from Somerset and Gordon, the dancing toad-fancier. These and many other fabulously engaging characters carry a deep knowledge of their chosen species within a distinctly quirky shell. Other animals making an appearance include otters, bats, dolphins, dragonflies, foxes and adders. Hugh Warwick, animal enthusiast and hedgehog fanatic, writes a series of affectionate and lively homages to the animals of the British Isles, composed of fieldwork and interviews with the people who love and conserve them.

Tickets cost £2 and can be obtained by telephoning or visiting the Customer Service Department, Second Floor, Blackwell Bookshop, Oxford. 01865 333623

 

 

Thursday 19th July at 7pm

SJ Parris / Sacrilege

Blackwell’s Bookshop, 48-51 Broad Street, Oxford

Price: £2

Perfect for fans of C.J. Sansom and The Name of the Rose, the third historical thriller featuring Giordano Bruno, heretic, philosopher and spy. In the pursuit of power, nothing is sacred! Summer, 1584. The Protestant Prince William of Orange has been assassinated by a fanatical Catholic, and there are whispers that Queen Elizabeth will be next. Fear haunts the streets of London, and plague is driving many citizens away. Giordano Bruno, radical philosopher and spy, chooses to remain, only to find that someone is following him through the city. Confronting his stalker, he realizes it is the woman he once loved — she is on the run, having been accused of murder. Bruno travels to Canterbury to help clear her name, and also on behalf of Sir Francis Walsingham. The Queen’s spymaster has long suspected Catholic influence in the ancient centre of pilgrimage, and instructs Bruno to work to expose any enemy plots. As Bruno begins his hunt for the real killer, he is drawn into the heart of a sinister conspiracy hiding in the shadow of England’s holiest shrine!

Tickets cost £2 and can be obtained by telephoning or visiting the Customer Service Department, Second Floor, Blackwell Bookshop, Oxford. 01865 333623

Terry Eagleton added to our Spring Events

Tuesday 22nd May at 7pm

Terry Eagleton / ‘Why Marx Was Right’

Blackwell Bookshop, 48-51 Broad Street, Oxford

Is Marxism dead? Should it finally be buried? In ‘Why Marx Was Right’, controversial critic Terry Eagleton argues that Marx’s imperfect yet serious critique of capitalism is newly relevant in this global post-crash moment.

Terry Eagleton is currently Bailrigg Professor of English Literature at the University of Lancaster and Professor of Cultural Theory at the National University of Ireland, Galway.

Since the publication of ‘Marxism and Literary Criticism’ (1976) and ‘Literary Theory’ (1982) he has been recognised for producing highly informed, accessible works that explore the relationship between literature, history and society. Eagleton has also been praised for his humour, wit and graceful style. He was described byThe Independent as ‘the man who succeeded F. R. Leavis as Britain’s most influential academic critic.’

As he says in ‘Why Mark was Right’ “After all, if you do not resist the apparently inevitable, you will never know how inevitable the inevitable was.” 

This promises to be a provocative and stimulating evening.

Tickets cost £4 and can be obtained by telephoning or visiting the Customer Service Department, Second Floor, Blackwell Bookshop, Oxford. 01865 333623

Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival photo blog

Thanks to all the authors, organisers, customers, Christ Church staff and fellow marquee dwellers who made the Festival such an unqualified, enjoyable event. Here are a few few photos that (I hope) capture some of the atmosphere and bring back some nice memories for those lucky enough to part of it…

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Hamlet – days until opening night!

 

 

Last year, Creation Theatre’s Doctor Faustus, staged in the world-famous Norrington Room here at Blackwell’s in Oxford, wowed audiences with its chilling and thought-provoking depiction of a man so hungry for power that he sells his soul to the devil. It was a production that thousands will never forget.

This year, Creation Theatre are back and have teamed up with The Factory to bring us first Hamlet and then The Odyssey. (For further details, see the section at the end of this piece and keep bang up to date on all the news and gossip by following #Hodyssey on Twitter)

Last week some cast members from The Factory came to see the Norrington Room. The actors explored the geography of the space, working out entrance and exit routes, and musing on the wealth of dramatic potential offered up. They proceeded to do an acoustic check so that they could understand the sonic properties of the room and then there was a photoshoot as well as a filmed trailer.

Many of you know the Norrington Room, I’m sure. It’s worth mentioning, though, that every single day we get new visitors to the bookshop who come and discover the Norrington Room for the first time. There’s an area just at the bottom of the stairs which we call – with colloquial familiarity, ‘The Gun Turret’. I’m not sure who coined the phrase, but it’s been called that for years, due, I’m sure, to the fact that it looks a little like a strategic outpost from where one can oversee and guard the rest of the room. Anyway, upon ‘The Gun Turret’ we often have some of our most eye-catching displays, and if you’re ever the bookseller creating said displays, it is not unusual to hear gasps of awe from behind you as those first-time visitors take in the majesty and scale of the Norrington Room.

The other thing one can often witness is how many visitors’ voices suddenly hush many decibels, in a sort of unconscious mark of respect to the room. This is always interesting – this isn’t a library, we don’t demand silence, and yet more often than not, silence descends!

And then of course, after the gasp, after the silence, a visitor begins to take in all those books. Last time Creation were here, their Stage Manager remarked on what a remarkable theatrical ‘set’ the Norrington Room had proved. If this was a film, then yes, you can imagine it, but in what other theatrical production could you imagine the backdrop of this vast quantity of books?

During the daytime, the Norrington Room is the academic heartland of the bookshop – people browse, amongst other subjects, Politics, Business & Economics, Law, Science, Biology & Medicine, Computing, Philosophy and Religion.

In the evening, magnificent author events often take place here and in March and April, Hamlet and then The Odyssey will ring out amongst those tomes and volumes . . . We would be delighted if you would join us.

Hamlet

5th March – 24th March

A Factory Production


Directed by Tim Carroll

The brainchild of director Tim Carroll, The Factory bring their flagship show to Oxford this spring. So far almost 15,000 audience members have helped create a one-night only, sometimes unexpected and always surprising, interpretation of Hamlet. Now it’s your turn. A rigorous exploration of Shakespeare’s verse combined with The Factory’s spirit of mischief and spontaneous play allow the company to delve into the endless possibilities within Shakespeare’s greatest work.

Note to audience:

Every audience member is asked to bring a random object to be used as a prop during the performance. Everything is welcome, large or small, ordinary or bizarre

 

The Odyssey

29th March – 28th April

A co-production between Creation and The Factory


Directed by Tim Carroll

The myth of Odysseus’ epic journey was ancient when Homer committed it to writing. Almost three thousand years later the stories still echo through our narrative memory. They are tales of famous heroes and villains; Athena, Zeus and the Cyclops, and those you might not know yet; six-headed Scylla, the whirlpool Charybdis and the lethargic Lotus-Eaters.

The Factory turn their unique spirit of spontaneity, playfulness and imagination to Homer’s epic story this spring. Combining movement, song, text and improvisation, each performance will be an original retelling that recreates the spirit of one of the world’s oldest oral storytelling traditions.

 

Tickets range from £10 – £29

Book online at

www.creationtheatre.co.uk

or call our Box Office on 01865 766266

 

Rising Literary Stars – a review

Thursday 28th July 2011 is a day that the shop will hold in great affection for many a day to come.

It was the second time that we had run a panel event for Rising Literary Stars and we were blessed with not only five brilliant novelists but also a passionate, informed chairperson and an audience that was thoughtful, engaged and utterly delightful.

Dan, one of the authors, has written a piece here  He, obviously, writes far more eloquently than me so I will just add a few personal thoughts from the evening.

Firstly I must mention Zool, our Events Manager, who had the original idea of hosting an event with a panel of first-time authors a couple of years back. Perhaps not a sure-fire type of event to bring in the audience and get the tills ringing. However, his vision and belief that this is the type of show that we really should put on has proved to be spot on. We, as a bookshop, recognise that there is a thirst for new voices out there and it is a responsibility for us to do our bit to give a platform to the less-tried and less-tested. On a self interested level we also hope that if we pick the authors well then we will give ourselves a chance to develop a strong connection with them as their careers blossom and that connection becomes mutually beneficial over many years (hanging on to the coat tails some might call it)

The sheer variety of the panel; their backgrounds, motivations, routes into being published, even their reading style ensured a natural rhythm to proceedings. Where there was uniformity though was in the extraordinary generosity of spirit that each of them showed – towards the other panelists, to the shop and to the audience. Take it from me, a wizened soul of too many bookshop events to keep count, that not all authors are like this…

After the readings each author was given the opportunity to proselytize about one book. Here’s what they chose:

Rachel Genn chose A Visit From The Goon Squad by Jenny Egan “nothing like it for the past 20 years”
Dan Holloway chose The Dead Beat by Cody James “most raw, honest and funny book this year”
John Butler chose City of Bohane by Kevin Barry *sorry John – I was too busy trying to remember how to spell Bohane to jot down your description of it. Oops.
Naomi Wood chose the At Last the last of the Melrose novels of Edward St Aubyn (Some Hope, On The Edge, A Clue to The Exit and Mother’s Milk being the others) “searingly brutal…absolutely fantastic”
Lee Rourke chose Vault by David Rose “critiques the heroics of the novel”
Nicholas Royle chose Ten Stories About Smoking by Stuart Evers “just brilliant stories”

But the authors were not the only stars of the evening. We sometimes get anxious about attracting big enough audiences for some of our events, but we never have a jot of anxiety about the quality of audience that Oxford always turns out. We needn’t have feared on either count for this event; an audience of over 50 people who contributed great questions but, perhaps more importantly, created an enchanting atmosphere that made the evening so special. Those who came along did us, and the authors, proud.Thank you

The lovely Michele Brenton (who came from Bridgend to be part of the evening) was inspired to pen a poem

So, an unqualified success – if you are keen to come along to future events in the shop do follow us on Twitter, like our Facebook page, keep an eye on our Online events page or look out for our posters in store to make sure that you don’t miss out on future magical evenings!

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Rising Literary Stars II – Win all the featured books!

This Thursday, 28th July at 7pm we are hosting our second panel discussion featuring some of the most exciting new literary talent around at the moment. At our previous Rising Literary Stars we had Poppy Adams (shortlisted for the Costa 1st Novel 2008 for The Behaviour of Moths), Samantha Harvey (winner of the Betty Trask Prize and AMI Literature award in 2009 for The Wilderness), James Miller (Lost Boys and Sunshine State, one of the Time Out Rising Stars of 2008) and Ali Shaw (winner of the Desmond Elliot Prize, shortlisted for Costa 1st Novel in 2009 for The Girl With the Glass Feet). It was a vibrant, interesting and fun evening.

This time we have a panel that is, perhaps, even more mouth-watering:

John Butler columnist, screenwriter and now novelist. His first novel is Tenderloin a modern take on the coming of age tale. School friends Evan and Milo who head off to San Francisco from Dublin in search of fame and fortune. Things do not necessarily turn out as planned. A wry, comic debut written with assurance and a fresh, exciting perspective.

 

 

Rachel Genn uses the story of an Irish labourer in London to explore themes of identity, loneliness and displacement in The Cure Her background as a doctor of neuroscience lends an insight to the human condition that is intriguing but not over-played.

 

 

Dan Holloway We have blogged and tweeted a lot about Dan since The Company of Fellows won the poll on this blog for Your Favourite Oxford Novel. But enough about Company, Dan is an extremely versatile writer, currently I am reading ‘Songs From the Other Side of the Wall’ which is more Murukami than Thomas Harris, and is a whirlwind of creativity as blogger, publisher and performer.

 

Lee Rourke is another favourite of this blog. The Canal, which won the ‘Not the Booker Prize’ in The Guardian last year and is in the process of being turned into a film. It is a book that created a huge stir in our shop and has become one of the books most recommended by our booksellers to customers. Lee is also very active online as contributing editor at 3:AM Magazine, contributor at Scarecrow as well being an essayist, reviewer and literary critic.

 

 

Naomi Wood Godless Boys is set in an alternative 1980s England where The Church rules and members of the outlawed Secular Movement are deported to The Island off the North East coast. A parallel world which allows a deft examination of faith, love and power. She is a graduate of the Creative Writing programme at UEA and has been a Kluge Fellow at the Library of Congress in Washington DC.

 

Bringing some order and insight to proceedings will be Nicholas Royle – novelist, commissioning editor at Salt Publishing and editor of The Best British Short Stories

 

 

***STOP PRESS*** Stuart Evers was due to appear but will now be engaged at a glitzy awards ceremony. We fancy him to win and wish him well!

Massive systemic changes are taking place in publishing and bookselling, and I suspect some of these themes will be touched on during the discussion, but is writing itself changing in a similar fashion? This is a great chance to hear from and ask questions of a clutch of the most talented new wave of published authors in the country.

Reserve a place on the coat tails of five extraordinary new authors as their literary stock will undoubtedly rise and rise and rise. Come along and you will be able say that you were there for the literary equivalent of seeing The Beatles at The Cavern Club in 1961!

Every ticket holder will enter a prize draw to win a copy of each of the books featured on the night. Tickets cost £2, book your place now by popping into the shop or telephoning 01865 333623