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City of Stories Celebrates Writers, Readers and Libraries in London

Olivia Snaije By Olivia Snaije Published on May 30, 2017
This article was updated on October 20, 2017

Four leading writers, Irenosen Okojie, Courttia Newland, Bidisha and Alex Wheatle will take up residencies in London libraries over a two-year period in a literary initiative that will place London's libraries center stage. Called City of Stories, the initiative was commissioned by the Association of London Chief Librarians and is run by Spread the Word and funded by the Arts Council England. 

Besides producing original short stories, the authors will listen to Londoners who have stories to tell, and encourage them to join short story writing workshops. Spotting emerging talent will be just part of the exercise for the professional writers. Anthony Hopkins, President of the Association of London Chief Librarians said: "The City of Stories project gives London's libraries an opportunity to enhance their engagement with aspiring writers and authors. Libraries historically have been an important part of a writer's development and this project gives them even greater access and tools to improve their craft..."

Beginning this June, 40 free short story writing workshops will be run in libraries across 20 London boroughs for adults as well as learners with English as a Second Language. A City of Stories short story competition will be held for participants who attended the workshops, and a booklet will be published containing 20 winning entries from each London borough.  The booklet will be made available to readers in librairies across London. 

The novelist and playwright Courttia Newland said: "Librairies are the lifeblood of literature..."

Bidisha, author and broadcaster added: "I'm delighted and excited to be a part of this new initiative...It's time for writers and readers in one of the most diverse and international cities on earth to put pen to paper and let loose a creativity without borders."


Olivia is a Paris-based journalist and editor.


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