Announcing WildLines @ The Leeds Library, Thursday March 15th – Saturday March 17th 2018

WildLines @ The Leeds Library is a three-day programme of talks, readings and Q&As curated by writer Richard Smyth and in partnership with the Leeds Library, the Leeds Big Bookend and Leeds Inspired. It will bring some of the UK’s leading writers and thinkers on nature to the wonderful Leeds Library, the oldest surviving subscription library of its type in the UK and which is celebrating its 250th birthday this year. The Library’s collections of nature writing encompass everything from illustrated 17th-century herbals to the works of the great Victorian naturalists to the most exciting modern-day chroniclers of nature and landscape. Where better to explore and celebrate those places where the written word collides with the wild world? 

Tickets can be bought for individual events or combined event tickets can be purchased at a discount. Details at the end. 

Nature On The Page: Wild Writing Then And Now 

Thursday, 15 March, 7.15pm-8.30pm

£6/£4. Book your ticket here.

An expert panel of writers and naturalists will explore the process of putting our experience of the natural world down on paper. Who gets to write about nature, and why? Is there a place for politics in nature writing? Does the North have the nature-writing it deserves? And why does nature writing matter? Audience members will have a chance to weigh in, too. This is sure to be a lively and fascinating discussion.

Our panelists are:

Maren Meinhardt, natural history editor at the Times Literary Supplement and author of a new biography of the great naturalist Alexander von Humboldt, A Longing for Wide and Unknown Things.
Professor Kate Oakley, Professor of Cultural Policy at the University of Leeds.
Stephen Rutt, writer, photographer, naturalist and birder. Stephen is the prose editor for Zoomorphic and his first book, The Seabirds:a British Journey, is forthcoming with Elliott and Thompson.
Rebecca Machin, Curator of Natural Science at Leeds Museum Discovery Centre.

Alex Preston: As Kingfishers Catch Fire

Friday, 16 March, 7.00pm-8.00pm

£7/£5. Book your ticket here.

Writer Alex PrestonNovelist and nature-writer Alex Preston joins writer Richard Smyth to discuss and read from his acclaimed new book, As Kingfishers Catch Fire, a fascinating mix of memoir and anthology that draws on a rich history of bird-writing – by authors including JA Baker, Mary Oliver, Ted Hughes, John Clare and DH Lawrence – to create a heartfelt celebration of birds both on the page and in the wild. The event will include an audience Q&A.

Alex Preston is a bestselling and award-winning novelist, most recently of the critically-acclaimed In Love and War. He appears regularly on BBC television and radio. He writes for GQ, Harper’s Bazaar and Town & Country Magazine as well as monthly fiction reviews for the Observer. He is a Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Kent.

Followed by…

Due to illness The Liars’ League event has been cancelled. If you have bought a ticket for this event please accept our apologies and you will be contacted about a refund in the next few days.

The Liars’ League presents: WildLines Live


£7/£5. Book your ticket here.

Actors from the award-winning Liars’ League storytelling troupe bring to life some of the most moving, memorable, lyrical and powerful passages of nature writing from The Leeds Library’s extensive collections. We’ll take you from the windswept peaks of the Cairngorms to the wide-open spaces of the Essex saltings to the bosky depths of an English woodland, all without you having to leave your seat.

Rob Cowen: Common Ground

Saturday, 17 March, 3.30pm-5.00pm

£7/£5. Book your ticket here.

The award-winning writer Rob Cowen is joined by Mike Winter and Chapel FM’s Peter Spafford to talk about his landmark book Common Ground, a brooding study of the edgelands of North Yorkshire. Common Ground was recently shortlisted in a contest to find the UK’s favourite nature book. This event will be broadcast live as part of Chapel FM’s Writing On Air Festival.

Rob Cowen is an award-winning journalist and writer described by the Guardian as ‘one of the UK’s most exciting nature writers’. He won the Roger Deakin Award for Skimming Stones and Other Ways of Being in the Wild (2012). In 2013 he wrote and presented the BBC documentary The Ospreys of Loch GartenCommon Ground was shortlisted for the Portico Prize and the Wainwright Prize. He lives in Harrogate, North Yorkshire.

Followed by…

Polly Atkin and Zaffar Kunial


£7/£5. Book your ticket here.

Two award-winning modern poets with a fresh perspective on landscape and nature join us for an informal evening of poetry and conversation. This will be followed by a nature themed poetry open mic. 6 slots of 5 minutes only. Once you have bought your ticket, if you would like to take part in the open mic, email to register for a place. It will be first come, first served. Will you be crowned the WildLines open mic champion? A great evening to round off our WildLines week.

Polly Atkin’s debut poetry pamphlet bone song was shortlisted for the Michael Marks Award, 2009; her second, Shadow Dispatches, won the Mslexia Pamphlet Prize, 2012. In 2014 an extract from her first collection, Basic Nest Architecture, was awarded New Writing North’s Andrew Waterhouse Prize for ‘reflect[ing] a strong sense of place or the natural environment’.



Zaffar Kunial was Poet-in-Residence at the Wordsworth Trust in Grasmere in 2014 and a recipient of a place on Faber’s New Poets scheme (2014 & 2018) which sees the publication of his first poetry collection, Us, in July.




Tickets can be bought for individual events or combined event tickets can be purchased at a discount. 

A combined ticket is available for Alex Preston/ Liars’ League on Friday 16 March. £12/£8. Book your ticket here.

A combined ticket is available for Rob Cowen/ Polly Atkin and Zaffar Kunial on Saturday 17 March. £12/£8. Book your ticket here.

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