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

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

Drama for Elders – Wednesdays

  • Wednesday, 4pm to 5.30pm

Join us for this weekly workshop exploring drama, improvisation, storytelling and creative writing, especially for the over 60s.  Note: this activity runs until Wednesday 18 November 2020.

More information on Drama for Elders and book your free place on Eventbrite.

Aloud in the Cloud shared reading group – Thursdays

  • 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. 

Book your free place for Aloud in the Cloud shared reading group 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.

Book a place for Health and wellness online advice sessions via Eventbrite.

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

Tracing Caribbean ancestry to 1860s online with Paul Crooks – Thursday 29 October

  • Thursday 29 October, 6.30pm to 7.30pm

Join us online with the pioneering genealogist, Paul Crooks, who will discuss how you can go even further back in time in your Black ancestry research, to 1860s, using resources available online. You’ll benefit from insights into how Paul varied his search technique and interpreted documents to overcome major barriers to tracing his great-grandfather.

This talk will cover records specific to African Caribbean research, as well as other materials of more general interest to children of the Windrush Generation.

Book your free place for Tracing Caribbean ancestry to 1860s online with Paul Crooks via Eventbrite.

The Stately Homes of England with Ruth Adams - Monday 2 November

  • Monday 2 November
  • 6.30pm to 7.30pm

Dr Ruth Adams is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Culture, Media & Creative Industries at King's College London.

This online talk by Ruth focuses on the fate and the status of country houses, and their residents, in the UK in the last half century. What were once status symbols and private homes became ‘white elephants’ as the fortunes of the aristocracy declined throughout the twentieth century. Although thousands of stately homes were bull-dozed or left to decay, many survive as architectural monuments to a largely disappeared way of life.

These buildings have been reconceptualised variously as the nation’s treasure houses, deserving of preservation via public funds and charity status, and as repositories of history, both illustrious and shameful. They have been repurposed as tourist destinations boasting cream teas and safari parks; as high-end hotels and wedding venues; as backdrops for films and fashion shoots; and as a branding tool for everything from Britain to luxury biscuits. Ancestral owners must submit to the demands of the National Trust and/or the whims of the leisure industry, role-playing lord of the manor for the gratification of the paying public.

Ruth will explore the hows and the whys of this history, and its implications not just for the key players but for the nation as a whole. How has the idea that the stately home epitomizes Britishness shaped the country’s sense of self, and the view of us from abroad?

Book your free place for The Stately Homes of England with Ruth Adams via Eventbrite 

Funky nail art workshop – Wednesday 4 November

  • Wednesday 4 November 
  • 6.30pm to 7.30pm

Join us online with nail artist, Diana Drummond who has worked on Paris, London and Milan Fashion weeks and celebrity magazine shoots on celebrities such as Lily Allen, Billie Piper and Janelle Monae to create funky nail art.

In this creative class you will be creating a funky and colourful firework display nail art that can be easily done from your own home using simple tools. This will be followed on by a quick and easy polka-dot themed nail art tutorial.

There will also be a chance to ask some questions on hand and nail care tips afterwards in the Q & A. This is a practical workshop, take a look at the event listing on Eventbrite to see what you'll need to join in.

Book your free place for Funky nail art workshop via Eventbrite.

Acting Like a Man: Rock Hudson’s Performance of Masculinity with John Mercer - Monday 9 November

  • Monday 9 November
  • 6.30pm to 7.30pm

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

Tall, dark and handsome, Rock Hudson represented the Hollywood ideal of American manhood during the 1950s and 1960s; an ideal that was to be questioned and ultimately undermined during the years that followed. Masculinity was always at the heart of Rock Hudson’s star persona and his performances. It is probably true to say that Hudson, more than almost any other actor of his generation, was presented as the epitome of the ‘All American’ heterosexual male; handsome, athletic, impeccably groomed, solid and dependable, a strong deep voice, he was all things that men were expected to aspire to and women (it was assumed) adored.

Whilst popular he was scarcely regarded as a great actor. Indeed, it has become a popular legend in Hollywood that his early screen test for Twentieth Century Fox was so bad it was subsequently used as an example of how not to act on screen. The perception that Hudson was, to quote a line from All That Heaven Allows, nothing more than a ‘handsome set of muscles’ dogged him and overshadowed his carefully crafted performances that punctuated a long and successful career. Hudson’s diagnosis and death from AIDS in 1985 was to subsequently create a new lens through which to understand his status as sex symbol and American ideal.

In this online talk John will explore the way in which Rock Hudson performs masculinity in his films and the range of behind the screen personnel responsible for the creation and construction of a star’s performance.

Book your free place for Acting Like a Man: Rock Hudson’s Performance of Masculinity with John Mercer via Eventbrite

Madrid, Midnight City with Helen Crisp - Tuesday 10 November

  • Tuesday 10 November
  • 6.30pm to 7.30pm

Madrid is a vibrant, incredibly energetic city, with a rich cultural and literary heritage, yet it remains an enigma to many visitors.

This online talk , with illustrations, will give a taster of the city’s history, the quintessential and the quirky, highlighting some well-known sights and introducing hidden gems that make Madrid such a unique and fascinating destination.

Helen's talk is based on Madrid - Midnight City, which she has co-authored with Jules Stewart.

Book your free place for Madrid, Midnight City with Helen Crisp via Eventbrite

Ang Lee: actors discovered and re-discovered with Ellen Cheshire - Wednesday 11 November

  • Wednesday 11 November
  • 6.30pm to 7.30pm

Join Ellen Cheshire online to find out more about the actors whose breakthrough role was in an Ang Lee movie and the actors whose finest work has been in one of his films.

Ang Lee has directed 11 feature films since 1991, from his trilogy of films drawing on his Taiwanese upbringing, through to his groundbreaking, if not always successful, use of the latest technology in films such as Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk and Gemini Man. Along the way he’s captivated audiences with his visions of Regency Britain in Sense and Sensibility, America of the 1960s and 1970s with films Brokeback Mountain, Taking Woodstock and The Ice Storm, and grand epic adventures such Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Hulk and Life of Pi.

In this talk, Ellen will provide an overview of this genre-hopping director whilst focusing on what connects them, extraordinary performances. Whilst offering an overview of Ang Lee's career, there will be a look at the young actors whose breakthrough performances were in an Ang Lee movie, and established actors whose work for Lee may well be amongst their greatest work.

Ellen wrote the first book on Ang Lee in 2001, and this year she has substantially revised and updated it as In the Scene: Ang Lee.

Book your free place for Ang Lee: actors discovered and re-discovered with Ellen Cheshire via Eventbrite

Grand Central Terminal: 100 Years of a New York Landmark - Thursday 12 November 

  • Thursday 12 November 
  • 6.30pm to 7.30pm

On 1 February 1913, the brand-new Grand Central Terminal opened its doors to an admiring public. On 1 February 2013, the beautifully restored Terminal – rescued from destruction by a seminal 1978 Supreme Court decision – celebrated its Centennial, accompanied by exhibitions and events. 

Come along to this virtual tour of one of the iconic buildings in New York with author Anthony Robins, author of Grand Central Terminal: 100 Years of a New York Landmark. This illustrated lecture, brings the Terminal to life – its remarkable history, stunning architecture, and central role in creating midtown Manhattan.

Book your free place for Grand Central Terminal: 100 Years of a New York Landmark via Eventbrite

The Writing Hour with author Joy Rhoades – Monday 23 November

  • Monday 23 November, 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

London History Festival 2020 Monday 16 to Thursday 26 November

We are happy to welcome you to The London History Festival again this year - this time we are inviting you to join us virtually, from the comfort of your own home.

Established in 2009 and hosted by Kensington Central Library each November, the festival enables you to engage with some of today's most popular and most highly regarded historians. This literary festival aims to bring the work of the finest historians to the widest possible audience. 

This year we are putting on eight evening talks with eight wonderful authors presenting their latest books, in a programme of virtual events we hope will both entertain and enlighten you. So why not come along, this is a real treat for all history buffs!

Prisoners of History with Keith Lowe

  • Monday 16 November, 6.30pm to 7.30pm

What happens when our values change, but what we have set in stone does not? This question is explored by our first guest, Keith Lowe, in his brilliant Prisoners of History: What Monuments to the Second World War Tell Us About Our History and Ourselves.

Humankind has always had the urge to memorialise, to make physical testaments to the past. There’s just one problem: when we carve a statue or put up a monument, it can wind up holding us hostage to bad history. In his extraordinary book, Keith Lowe uses monuments from around the world to show how different countries have attempted to sculpt their history in the wake of the Second World War, and what these memorials reveal about their politics and national identity today.

As many around the world are questioning who and what we memorialise, Prisoners of History challenges our idea of national memory, history, and the enormous power of symbols in society today.

Book your free place for Prisoners of History with Keith Lowe via Eventbrite

The Hitler Years with Frank McDonough

  • Tuesday 17 November, 6.30pm to 7.30pm

At the beginning of 1940, Germany was at the pinnacle of its power. By May 1945 Hitler was dead and Germany had suffered a disastrous defeat. Hitler had failed to achieve his aim of making Germany a super power and had left her people to cope with the endless shame of the Holocaust.

In his book, The Hitler Years -Disaster 1940-1945, our guest Professor Frank McDonough charts the dramatic change of fortune for the Third Reich, and challenges long-held accounts of the Holocaust and Germany's ultimate defeat.

Despite Hitler's grand ambitions and the successful early stages of the Third Reich's advances into Europe, Frank argues that Germany was only ever a middle-ranking power and never truly stood a chance against the combined forces of the Allies.

Book your free place for The Hitler Years with Frank McDonough via Eventbrite

The Fragrance of Tears with Victoria Schofield

  • Wednesday 18 November, 6.30pm to 7.30pm

Victoria Schofield presents a memoir of her thirty-year friendship with an Oxford contemporary, Benazir Bhutto. In her book, The Fragrance of Tears, she draws on diaries and letters and narrates with affection and emotional honesty the trajectory of her close and enduring bond with one of the most charismatic and controversial figures in South Asian politics – and a woman whose life and career were defined by tragedy.

Born to a wealthy and influential Pakistani family , Benazir Bhutto twice served as prime minister of her country (thereby becoming the first woman to head a democratic government in a predominantly Muslim nation). She was assassinated in December 2007 while attempting a political comeback.

Victoria's memoir provides first-hand insights into Bhutto's transformation from Oxford undergraduate to political activist, prisoner and politician against the backdrop of an increasingly turbulent region.

Book your free place for The Fragrance of Tears with Victoria Schofield via Eventbrite

Providence Lost with Paul Lay

  • Thursday 19 November, 6.30pm to 7.30pm

We are pleased to welcome Paul Lay to the festival again this year, this time not as a host, but presenting his brilliant book, Providence Lost: The Rise and Fall of Cromwell's Protectorate.

In his absorbing and beautifully written book, Paul narrates the story of England's first and only experiment with republican government. He brings the febrile world of Oliver Cromwell's Protectorate to life, providing vivid portraits of the extraordinary individuals who inhabited it.

Book your free place for Providence Lost with Paul Lay via Eventbrite

Valkyrie with Jóhanna Friðriksdóttir

  • Monday 23 November, 6.30pm to 7.30pm

Valkyries: the female supernatural beings that choose who dies and who lives on the battlefield. They protect some, but guide spears, arrows and sword blades into the flesh of others.

Drawing on the latest historical and archaeological evidence, Jóhanna Friðriksdóttir's book, Valkyrie: The Women of the Viking World introduces readers to the dramatic and fascinating texts recorded in medieval Iceland, a culture capable of imagining women in all kinds of roles wielding power, not just in this world, but in the other-world too.

In this fascinating book, Johanna uncovers the reality behind the myths and legends to reveal the dynamic and diverse lives of Viking women. Come along to what promises to be an evening of magic, myth and power.

Book your free place for Valkyrie with Jóhanna Friðriksdóttir via Eventbrite

The Awakening with Charles Freeman

  • Tuesday 24 November, 6.30pm to 7.30pm

Charles Freeman takes us on an enthralling journey, and provides us with a vital key to understanding the world we live in today. He presents his monumental and exhilarating history of European thought, from the fall of Rome in the fifth century AD to the Scientific Revolution thirteen centuries later.

Vivid in detail and informed by the latest scholarship, The Awakening is powered not by the fate of kings or the clash of arms but by deeper currents of thought, inquiry and discovery, which first recover and then surpass the achievements of classical antiquity, and lead the West to the threshold of the Age of Reason.

Book your free place for The Awakening with Charles Freeman via Eventbrite

Philip and Alexander with Adrian Goldsworthy

  • Wednesday 25 November, 6.30pm to 7.30pm

In his brilliant latest offering, Philip and Alexander: Kings and Conquerors, our guest Adrian Goldsworthy examines two of the titans of antiquity - Philip and Alexander of Macedon, who transformed a weak kingdom in northern Greece into a globe-spanning empire and in so doing, changed the course of history.

Between them, Philip and Alexander played a key role in spreading Greek language and culture over a vast area, the consequences of which were many and profound.

It led to the New Testament being written in Greek and a Greek-speaking 'Roman' empire surviving in the eastern Mediterranean for a thousand years after the last emperor to rule from Italy. Come along and hear this epic story from the author himself.

Book your free place for Philip and Alexander with Adrian Goldsworthy via Eventbrite

A World Beneath the Sands with Toby Wilkinson

  • Thursday 26 November, 6.30pm to 7.30pm

Travellers and treasure-hunters, ethnographers and epigraphers, antiquarians and archaeologists: whatever their motives, whatever their methods, all understood that in pursuing Egyptology they were part of a greater fBen Aaronovitchendeavour – to reveal a lost world, buried for centuries beneath the sands.

In A World Beneath the Sands, the acclaimed Egyptologist, Toby Wilkinson tells the riveting stories of the men and women whose obsession with Egypt's ancient civilisation drove them to uncover its secrets. Champollion, Carter and Carnarvon are here, but so too are their lesser-known contemporaries.

Come along to what promises to be a real treat for all history buffs! After all, what could be more exciting, more exotic or more intrepid than those brave souls digging in the sands of Egypt in the hope of discovering golden treasures from the age of the pharaohs?

Book your free place for A World Beneath the Sands with Toby Wilkinson via Eventbrite

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