London History Festival impresses

What links the Battle of the Somme, the Hundred Years War and the Peasants’ Revolt?  Well, before you send your answers on a postcard or spend too much time on the internet, let me say they are just some of the topics that will be discussed in Kensington Central Library as part of the London History Festival in November.

kc-library-deskThis has become a regular event at the library over the past eight years and gives people an opportunity to hear some first-class historians interviewed about their work and recent books and also to put questions to them.

This year’s programme is an impressive one indeed and I will certainly be looking to find time to attend.  Amongst the topics, best-selling historian Hugh Sebag-Montefiore will be talking about the lessons learned from the Battle of the Somme and Peter Frankopan, whose book The Silk Roads: A New History of the World, was the Daily Telegraph’s history book of the year in 2015, will be discussing the relationship between the East and the West and how India and China are once again shaping the world.

If medieval England is more up your street then perhaps you will want to hear the acclaimed historian Juliet Barker talk about the Peasants’ Revolt, its causes, legacy and Richard II’s role in events.

Military historian Michael Jones will bring his expertise to bear on the Hundred Years War with special reference to the Black Prince and the Battle of Agincourt.

Just reading the programme has been an eye-opener – I have been reminded that in the sixteenth century powerful women ruled huge swathes of Europe. Sarah Gristwood, author of Game of Queens, will discuss queens regent and regnant from Isabella of Castile to Elizabeth of England and ask what the challenges they faced have to teach us about the present day.

The full programme and ticket details can be found at

Tickets for events cost £5 (£3 concessions) per event and are on sale at all Kensington and Chelsea libraries.  The London History Festival runs from Monday 14 to Thursday 24 November.

It is fitting that the Royal Borough’s Library Service should be the setting for what I know will be a stimulating series of talks and I thank officers for their efforts and the sponsors for their support.

Close by to the eminent speakers will be shelves of books covering the history of mankind.  From ancient Greece to the Cold War there will be books that will educate, entertain and challenge.  Sometimes you really do have to take a moment to acknowledge the vital role libraries play in our community and just what wonderful community assets they are.