Online events and activities for adults

Library closures

For information about library closures and services at this time, please visit the coronavirus service disruptions and updates page.

Events

Regular Events

Aloud in the Cloud shared reading group – Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays

  • Monday, 3pm to 4pm
  • Tuesday, 2pm to 3pm
  • Thursday, 2pm to 3pm

Aloud in the Cloud is a weekly shared reading group. Come along to hear us read aloud some of our favourite stories and poems. 
We now have two new groups that meets on a Monday and a Tuesday. The Monday group starts: Monday 25 January and the Tuesday group on Tuesday 16 February.

Book your free place for Aloud in the Cloud shared reading group on Mondays via Eventbrite.

Book your free place for Aloud in the Cloud shared reading group on Tuesdays via Eventbrite.

Book your free place for Aloud in the Cloud shared reading group on Thursdays via Eventbrite.

Graphic novel reading group – second Monday of the month

  • Second Monday of the month, 7pm to 8pm

The group meets monthly online via Zoom and they talk about adult comics, graphic novels, current events and pop culture. The event is currently chaired by volunteer and long-running member of the group, Mike Belbin. To find out more email: mikelbelbin@gmail.com

Virtual knitting club – Wednesdays

  • Wednesday, 3pm to 4pm

Join our weekly virtual knitting club, led by library staff who are expert knitters. They'll inspire you to try a new knitting project or can help you when you get stuck.

Book your free place for Virtual knitting club via Eventbrite

Health and wellness online advice sessions – every other Thursday

  • Every other Thursday, 11am to 12 noon

Whatever your health concerns, the Head Librarian from the Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust will guide you through reliable sources of healthcare information, enabling you to take control of your health and well-being.

These sessions will return soon, please check back for more information.

Chelsea Library’s reading group – every third Thursday

  • Every third Thursday, 6.30pm to 7.30pm

Chelsea Library’s reading group is a friendly relaxed reading group which meets once a month. The group reads mostly modern and contemporary fiction but will read anything suggested by its group members. Full details of the books they will be discussing each month are on Eventbrite.

Book your place for Chelsea Library’s reading group via Eventbrite

Kensington and Chelsea libraries online book group – Fridays

  • Friday, 2.30pm to 3.30pm

Join our weekly online book group where we discuss our Books of the Week. Full details of the books we will be discussing each week are on Eventbrite.

Book your place for the RBKC online book group via Eventbrite

Self-Help Book Club – monthly on a Saturday

  • Once a month on a Saturday, 10am to 12 noon

Self-help books are some of the most popular and most borrowed books of all genres. People love to read about how they can improve their health, their attitudes and their lives in general. So many people read self-improvement books, but how many actually attempt to put some of what they've read into practice?

The Self-Help Book Club aims to do just that - help you help yourself by discussing ways in which theory can be put into practice. Each month the group meets online and will discuss a different book; full details are on Eventbrite.

Book your free place for Self-Help Book Club via Eventbrite


Special Events

The Writing Hour with author Joy Rhoades – Monday 18 January

  • Monday 18 January
  • 6pm to 7pm

Want to write but having difficulty finding focus? Then join other creative writers once a month, for an hour of silent focused writing. The coordinator, writer and writing teacher Joy Rhoades, will provide a short introduction, which will be followed by 40 minutes of silent writing. Joy will provide a writing prompt too, for those who wish to try a writing exercise.

The writing session will end with volunteers reading a few lines of their work and with a check in to see how writers fared with their time.

These monthly sessions are intended to help you kick-start your creative week with some writing.

Book your free place for The Writing Hour with author Joy Rhoades via Eventbrite

Dana Gillespie's 'Weren't Born a Man' book launch and author talk - Monday 18 January

  • Monday 18 January
  • 6.30pn to 7.30pm

The award-winning first lady of the Blues, Dana Gillespie, presents her new autobiography, 'Weren't Born a Man'.

On the very day her book is published, South Kensington resident, Dana Gillespie, will be recounting stories from her memoir. This illustrated online talk will feature many never-before-seen photographs from her personal archive.

Dana will talk about her friendships with David Bowie, Bob Dylan, Keith Moon and the cream of 1960s rock royalty. She'll tell us about appearing in movies with Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, Terry Thomas, Kenneth Williams, Spike Milligan and many other British comedy greats. Or how about recording with Jimmy Page and Elton John or performing as Mary Magdalene in the original London production of Jesus Christ Superstar?

Book your free place for Dana Gillespie's' Weren't Born a Man' book launch and author talk on Eventbrite

Digital accounting: a masterclass for SME owner managers - Tuesday 19 January

  • Tuesday 19 January
  • 10.30am to 11.30am

Get up to speed with HMRC’s new digital record keeping and VAT filing obligations.

Hosted by Raj Grover, Xero Accredited Advisor and senior lecturer at London School of Accountancy. This practical masterclass will demonstrate how digital accounting software such as Xero can be used by owner-managed businesses, accountants and bookkeepers in order to comply with HMRC’s MTD (Making Tax Digital) requirements.

We've more information about this event on Eventbrite.

Book your free place for Digital accounting – a masterclass for SME owner managers on Eventbrite.

Alfred Hitchcock and Cary Grant - Wednesday 20 January

  • Wednesday 20 January
  • 6.30pm to 7.30pm

Join Mark Glancy for online illustrated talk about the personal and professional relationship of Alfred Hitchcock and Cary Grant.

Alfred Hitchcock and Cary Grant must have seemed like unlikely collaborators when they first met in 1939, but the macabre ‘master of suspense’ and the debonair star of screwball comedies enriched each other’s work immeasurably. They also became close friends and, late in his life, Hitchcock confided to a friend that Grant was 'the only actor I ever loved. Drawing on the personal papers of both the star and the director, this illustrated talk explores the remarkable personal and professional relationship that endured for decades and resulted in four classic films: Suspicion (1941), Notorious (1946), To Catch a Thief (1955) and North by Northwest (1959).

Mark is a Reader in Film at Queen Mary University of London. His most recent book is Cary Grant: The Making of a Hollywood Legend (Oxford University Press, 2020).

Book your free place for Alfred Hitchcock and Cary Grant on Eventbrite.

Prose and politics with Julie Anderson - Monday 25 January

  • Monday 25 January
  • 6.30pm to 7.30pm

Come along to this online talk about how politics and prose intermingle.

In an age in which we are all citizen journalists and political commentators on social media and the political blog has found a place in the mainstream media in a way undreamed of thirty years ago what place does political fiction have?

The power struggles, jealousies and rivalries, or alliances and betrayals of politicians, from Parliament, to White House to the town hall have always been fodder for the novelist and have often been adapted for the screen. Although elections - the ultimate nail-biting scenario of 'who will win?' - haven't formed the basis of fiction as often as you might think.

Our guest, the author Julie Anderson, discusses the future of the 'political novel' and the 'novel about politics', which are not, of course, necessarily the same thing, in the 21st century.

Book your free place for Prose and politics with Julie Anderson on Eventbrite 

Mediaeval building myths: secret passages and spiral staircases - Tuesday 26 January

  • Tuesday 26 January
  • 6.30pm to 7.30pm

Secret passages, ship timbers and spiral staircases - join award-winning buildings archaeologist, James Wright for this online talk to find out the truth behind the legends.

Historic buildings specialists often meet others who are eager to talk about their properties and their enthusiasm is genuinely infectious. We can learn so much of value about a society by what it builds. However, romanticised and elaborated stories often grow up around certain mysterious features in mediaeval buildings – secret passages, ship timbers and swordsmen fighting on spiral staircases.

It is surprising how often these get repeated all across the country and at so many different structures. In this talk, James will outline the legends, look at the origins of the stories and reveal the underlying truths behind the tales.

Book your free place for Mediaeval building myths – secret passages and spiral staircases on Eventbrite.

The Short Story Supper Club with Racontesse - starts Wednesday 27 January

  • Wednesday 27 January, 7.30pm to 8pm
  • Tuesday 16 February, 16 and 30 March, 7.30pm to 8pm
  • Tuesday 13 and 27 April, 7.30pm to 8pm

Racontesse is on a mission to convince you how utterly fabulous short stories are – one exquisite story at a time! Racontesse is Sarah Gray and Josephine Rydberg and they are the champion of short stories. They will share their passion by showcasing the very best in this series of six half-hour evening sessions.

Each of the Short Story Supper Clubs will explore a different tale: tragic, twisted or funny to prove that a delicious nibble can be every bit as satisfying as a feast. In digesting every element, from genre and themes to character and plot, we shall look at how and why each story works and marvel at the author who created it.

Take a look on Eventbrite for more information about each short story they'll be showcasing.

Book your free place for The Short Story Supper Club with Racontesse on Eventbrite.

Meet Heather Morris, author of The Tattooist of Auschwitz – Wednesday 27 January

  • Wednesday 27 January
  • 8pm to 9.30pm

Join us for this special online event to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day 2021. We are thrilled to invite you to a live event with Heather Morris, bestselling author of The Tattooist of Auschwitz and Cilka's Journey.

Heather Morris grew up on a farm in rural New Zealand. On her way back across the paddocks from school, Heather would visit her great-grandfather and listen to his experiences of war - stories he told only Heather. From a young age Heather discovered that people would tell her their stories if she stopped and listened.

Then she met Holocaust survivor Lale Sokolov, the tattooist at Auschwitz-Birkenau, with whom she formed a profound friendship. The result was The Tattooist of Auschwitz - a novel that has now sold more than 6,000, 000 copies around the world. The sequel, Cilka's Journey, is another incredible story of survival against the odds.

Book your free place Meet Heather Morris, author of The Tattooist of Auschwitz on Eventbrite.

Max Steiner: the creation of the Hollywood sound - Friday 29 January

  • Friday 29 January
  • 6.30pm to 7.30pm

Discover the previously untold story of Max Steiner, the pioneering composer whose scores for Bogart, Bergman, Bette Davis and others paved the way for modern film music.

In a career spanning 19th-century Vienna to 1920s Broadway to the golden age of Hollywood, Max Steiner did more than any other composer to create the sound and style of film music. Today’s composers use many of the same techniques Steiner pioneered in his scores for Casablanca, King Kong, Gone with the Wind, Mildred Pierce, The Searchers, Now, Voyager, and over 200 other titles.

In this online talk by Steven C. Smith, we’ll meet the three-time Oscar winner and 24-time nominee, who was born into a theatrical dynasty who teamed on Broadway with Gershwin and Kern and who revolutionized Hollywood, by writing the first, and often best, scores of the sound era. His personal life was chaotic: a gambling addiction, four marriages, a father trapped in Nazi-controlled Austria. But through it all, Steiner was buoyed by a quick wit and a bountiful gift for melody--qualities that came to the fore in work with Irving Berlin, Bette Davis, Frank Sinatra, Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers, Vivien Leigh, and Cary Grant.

Steven is an award-winning documentary producer, author, and speaker who specializes in Hollywood history and profiles of contemporary filmmakers. He is the author of two acclaimed biographies: Music by Max Steiner: The Epic Life of Hollywood’s Most Influential Composer (Oxford University Press), and A Heart at Fire's Center: The Life and Music of Bernard Herrmann (University of California Press).

Book your free place for Max Steiner: the creation of the Hollywood sound on Eventbrite.

Managing our mental health and well-being in challenging times - Friday 5 February

  • Friday 5 February
  • 6.30pm to 7.30pm

Join us online with the Royal Brompton Hospital's Head Librarian takes us through some resources for managing our mental health in these challenging times.

Mental health difficulties are on the rise in these times of uncertainty. The sheer quantity of information (and disinformation) around this topic can be overwhelming and tricky to navigate.

Samantha Unamboowe, Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Foundation Trust's Head Librarian, will guide us through some trusted and approved resources -  websites and apps, that may prove useful in empowering you to better manage your own mood and well-being.

Book your plave for Managing our mental health and well-being in challenging times on Eventbrite

The sexiest man alive with John Mercer - Monday 8 February

  • Monday 8 February
  • 6.30pm to 7.30pm

When Daniel Craig emerged from the sea as the new James Bond in Casino Royale in 2006, his appearance, as well as his physique, created a media furore. For the first time, arguably since the days of Sean Connery, James Bond was, once again, a sex symbol. Whilst the term sex symbol was likely coined in the 1950s (the origin of the term is unclear) the idea of a film star invested with a surplus of romantic and sexual appeal was already established by the 1920s.

Whilst we now tend to think of sex symbols as female though in fact the earliest stars with a romantic following were in fact men, most notably Rudolph Valentino and Ramon Novarro; men who summoned up not a white Anglo-Saxon protestant ideal but instead the excitement, indeed the threat, of difference.

In this online talk, John Mercer, will be thinking about the male sex symbol in popular cinema from the silent era onwards. He will argue that rather than being straightforward in what they represent, male sex symbols in fact tell us a lot about the complex and contradictory way that masculinity functions in popular culture.

John is an author and Professor of Gender and Sexuality at Birmingham City University.

Book your place for The sexiest man alive with John Mercer on Eventbrite.

Doris Day: the 'most everything girl in Hollywood’ - Wednesday 17 February

  • Wednesday 17 February
  • 6.30pm to 7.30pm

Having attained fame and success as a big band singer in the 1940s, Doris Day was signed by Warner Bros. and made her first movie in 1948. Within a few months of this first film appearance, the industry, critics and audiences alike became very excited about her, and she was swiftly hailed by one fan magazine as 'the most everything girl in Hollywood'. So what happened in her life and career to take her from this epithet, epitomising all that seemed positive and exciting, to the second in my title, 'the most misunderstood girl in the world' by 1964?

This online talk by, Dr Tamar Jeffers McDonald  Head of the School of Arts and Reader in Film at the University of Kent, will explore how Day’s stardom changed over time in Hollywood, from her first rapturous reception, through peaks and troughs of popularity, to a position where, by the end of her live film career towards the close of the 1960s, she was being viewed – by the media if not by audience members – in almost completely negative terms.

Book your place for Doris Day: the 'most everything girl in Hollywood on Eventbrite.

T.S. Eliot and the London of The Waste Land - Wednesday 17 February

  • Wednesday 17 February
  • 7pm to 8.30pm

City of London guide, Tina Baxter, takes us on a virtual tour of the locations that inspired T.S. Eliot's epic vision of London as 'Unreal City'.

The American-born British poet, essayist, playwright and literary critic, T.S. Eliot is considered one of the 20th century's most important Modernist literary figures. In addition to being a writer he worked in London as a teacher, editor, publisher - and banker - whilst becoming a central figure in the city's intellectual scene. And the metropolis features in much of his work - especially in the haunted masterpiece The Waste Land.

Tickets are £4.80.

Book your place for T.S. Eliot and the London of The Waste Land  on Eventbrite.

Folklore of London with Antony Clayton - Monday 22 February

  • Monday 22 February
  • 6.30pm to 7.30pm

Why is a red rose carried on a cushion through the streets of The City on Midsummer morning? Where do London's two bun ceremonies take place, what is Beating the Bounds and who was Spring-Heeled Jack?

If you ever wondered about London's pagan origins or modern urban myths, then this online talk is for you. Author Antony Clayton provides a glimpse into legends, quaint customs and ceremonies that marked our city's history through the ages.

Book your place for Folklore of London with Antony Clayton on Eventbrite.

Mediaeval buildings myths with James Wright - Tuesday 23 February

  • Tuesday 23 February
  • 6.30pm to 7.30pm

One of the most tenacious mediaeval building myths is that many timber-framed buildings were constructed from salvaged ship timbers. And not just any old ships. A visit to almost any timber-framed public house in the land will elicit a similar story. The tale is often elaborated to add a layer of enigma and romanticism to the pub by mentioning the Spanish Armada or battle of Trafalgar.

Are these just harmless folktales intended to hook in the boozers, or can we genuinely find the timbers of lost ships in the rafters of the village watering hole? Find out with our online talk with an award-winning buildings archaeologist, James Wright.

Book your place for Mediaeval buildings myths with James Wright on Eventbrite.

Torlonia Marbles uncovered with Olga Cuckovic - Wednesday 24 February

  • Wednesday 24 February
  • 6.30pm to 7.30pm

Take an online tour of the last great private collection of classical sculpture as it takes its first tentative steps into the world.

The blockbuster Torlonia Marbles exhibition in Rome came to an abrupt halt shortly after its long-awaited opening in October 2020. It will hopefully open again at Capitoline Museums soon and in time continue its planned journey from the Louvre and the British Museum to the museums in the US.

From what is known so far, this amazing collection will eventually find peace in a long-abandoned but imposing noble palace near the Colosseum in Rome, once a careful restauration for which the Italian government has put aside €40 million is complete.

Our Roman envoy, Olga Cuckovic, was one of the lucky few who saw the exhibition before it closed and will tell us the remarkable story of Torlonia marbles in this beautifully illustrated talk.

Book your place for Torlonia Marbles uncovered with Olga Cuckovic on Eventbrite.

Ealing's Postwar London: from Pimlico to the Blue Lamp - Wednesday 24 February

  • Wednesday 24 February
  • 6.30pm to 7.30pm

London emerged from World War II victorious yet war-ravaged, as the Blitz of 1940-1 and 1944-5 destroyed vast swathes of the London landscape. The subsequent ruins and rubble exposed much the pre-war city and, due to a scarcity of materials, rebuilding was a slow process. London’s distinct post-war landscape and character, marked by victory, devastation then rebuilding, was one that sparked the imagination of filmmakers, novelists and photographers.

This online talk by film historian, Jenny Stewart explores how Ealing Studios depicted and used London’s unique post-war landscape for fictional stories in the immediate aftermath of WWII. Ealing Studios produced several films shot and set in inner-London, with themes and characters that resonated with post-war audiences.

The talk focuses on three of Ealing’s post-war London films; Hue and Cry (1947), Passport to Pimlico (1949) and The Blue Lamp (1950). These films were produced during Ealing and British cinema’s ‘golden age’ as cinemagoing was the key leisure activity, with cinema attendance reaching its peak in Britain in 1946 with 1,635 million admissions.

Book your place for Ealing's Postwar London: from Pimlico to the Blue Lamp on Eventbrite.

The Return of Holy Russia with Gary Lachman - Thursday 25 February

  • Thursday 25 February
  • 6.30pm to 7.30pm

Author Gary Lachman returns with an online event that explores Russia’s long history of mysticism and apocalyptic thought.

At the turn of the 20th century, Russia was undergoing a powerful spiritual and cultural rebirth. It was a time of magic and mysticism that saw a vital resurgence of interest in the occult and the creative intensity not seen in the West since the Renaissance. This was the time of the God-Seekers, pilgrims of the soul and explorers of the spirit who sought the salvation of the world through art and ideas.

In his latest book, The Return of Holy Russia, our guest Gary Lachman discusses this 'occult revival' with a look at Rasputin’s prophecies, Blavatsky’s Theosophy, Roerich’s Red Shambhala and the philosophies of Berdyaev and Solovyov.

Book your place for The Return of Holy Russia with Gary Lachman on Eventbrite.

British women in India with Katie Hickman- Friday 26 February

  • Friday 26 February
  • 6.30pm to 7.30pm

Join us for this fascinating online interview with Katie Hickman, the Sunday Times bestselling author of She-Merchants, Buccaneers & Gentlewomen - British Women in India.

She uncovers the stories of the first British women to set foot in India in the very early seventeenth century, two and a half centuries before the Raj came into being. In stark contrast to the languid memsahibs of popular imagination, these women were tough adventurers, their voyages extraordinarily daring leaps into the unknown. 

While it is well-known that women went to India to find husbands, what is almost unknown is that they also worked as traders, cloth merchants, milliners, bakers, dress-makers, portrait painters, maids, shop-keepers, governesses, teachers, writers, travellers - the list is endless.

India was the British 'wild east', and many women succeeded in building a new and often independent life for themselves.

Book your place for British women in India with Katie Hickman on Eventbrite.


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