Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Books Unlocked October 2017 - Black History Month

Who is Zadie Smith?

Novelist Zadie Smith was born in North London in 1975 to an English father and a Jamaican mother.  She studied English at Cambridge, graduating in 1997.  Her celebrated first novel, White Teeth (2000), published when Smith was only 24, examines amongst many other topics, cultural identity, history, faith, and future.  Her novel won several awards and prizes, has been translated into over twenty languages and adapted for television broadcast.  The same for my personal favourite, Smith’s novel NW (2012) which was also adapted for broadcast in 2016. The setting for Smith’s novels are the suburbs of North-West London: Harlesden, Neasden, Kilburn, Wembley and in particular, Willesden.  Her books resonate with me not only because this is where I grew up, but because she reflects both sides of “my” London in her literature. A pulsing, effervescent city, full of life and opportunity against the tension between the have and have nots.
Among a plethora of accolades, Smith was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2002 and was listed as one of Granta's 20 Best Young British Novelists in 2003 and again in 2013.
An essayist, and short story writer, Zadie Smith’s novels are definitely worth reading! A sample of her work include White Teeth (2000), The Autograph Man (2002), On Beauty (2005), NW (2012) and Swing Time (2016).  We eagerly await The Fraud set to be published in 2019!

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Books Unlocked October 2017 - Black History Month Mary Prince

Who was 

MARY PRINCE?
Mary Prince – the first Black woman to write an autobiography, entitled “The History of Mary Prince: A West Indian Slave”.  Prince also became the first woman to present an Anti-Slavery petition to parliament!

Her book, published during the Abolition movement in February 1831, brought to the attention of otherwise unknowing British readers, the horrors and misery of slave life on a plantation.  Her story echoed that of hundreds of thousands of slaves who had been subject to incomprehensible abuse and hardship at the hands of cruel slave masters.  At the time, readers found Prince’s account of the relentless violence too extreme to be believable.
Her harrowing description contributed to the emancipation of British slaves after the passing of the Slavery Abolition Act in 1833.
Prince chillingly recalls one of the many beatings she received from a brutal and sadistic Mr Wood - this time for marrying without permission: “She [Mrs Woods] could not forgive me for getting married, but stirred up Mr. Wood to flog me dreadfully with the horsewhip.  I thought it very hard to be whipped at my time of life for getting a husband…
Prince explains how she suffered with rheumatism, and when unable to work, was subject to the most unimaginable torture, locked in a cage and left to die.  On several occasions, Prince begged for another to buy her freedom, but Wood would not grant her this wish, as he knew, when healthy, Prince worked tirelessly.    
Around 1828, Prince was taken to London but continued to suffer ill-health - unfortunately, the belief that British air would appease her aching limbs proved only to be a myth!  However, London would eventually enable liberty as the British legal system ceased to support slavery.  Prince was able to escape ownership and persistent persecution!
She absconded to a church in Hatton Garden, finally taking refuge at the Anti-Slave Society, based in East London.
Prince ensured her freedom and used it to campaign against slavery.
Her narrative is truly distressing but a must-read to encourage appreciation of the struggle faced by Black people during the slave trade.

In October 2007 a commemorative plaque was mounted near Bloomsbury in London.


Books Unlocked October 2017 - Black History Month

Black History Month at Bedford Library


Friday, 6 October 2017

Books Unlocked October 2017 - Black History Month

There is also a display at Aylesbury to celebrate Black History Month




Books Unlocked October 2017 - Black History Month

WHO WAS

JAMES BERRY, OBE?

“Poems come from your more secret mind. A poem will want to ask deeper questions, higher questions, more puzzling questions, and often too, more satisfying questions than the
everyday obvious questions...” James Berry (1924-2017)

James Berry, OBE was one of the best loved and most taught poets in Britain.  Not only one of the first Black poets to achieve wider recognition for his work, Mr Berry was winner of the 1981 National Poetry Competition with his entry ‘Fantasy of an African Boy’.  His collections of poetry and stories are notorious for the use of both West-Indian dialect and standard English language.  This was significant in relating the crossing of cultures to a wide range of readers and synonymous with the experiences of his West-Indian counterparts.
In his teenage years, Mr Berry saw no future in Jamaica, so left for the US where he worked for four years as a contract labourer on farms and in factories.  In June 1948 a friend decided to travel to the UK to seek work and it was then Berry articulated “The next ship, I’ll be on it”.  In June 1948, he was among the first in a post-war wave of West-Indian emigration arriving at Tilbury Dock aboard the SS Empire Windrush after an 8000-mile journey from the Caribbean to London.  Mr Berry relates his experience aboard the SS Empire Windrush in his poem To Travel This Ship.

To Travel this Ship



To travel this ship, man
I gladly strip mi name
of a one-cow, two-goat an a boar pig
an sell the land piece mi father lef
to be on this ship and to be a debtor.
Man, jus fa diffrun days
I woulda sell, borrow or thief
jus fa diffrun sunrise an sundown
in annodda place wid odda ways.
To travel this ship, man
I woulda hurt, I woulda cheat or lie,
I strip mi yard, mi friend and cousin-them To get this yah ship ride.
Man – I woulda sell mi modda Jus hopin to buy her back.
Down in dat hole I was
I see this lickle luck, man,
I see this lickle light.
Man, Jamaica is a place
Where generations them start out Havin notn, earnin notn,
And – dead – leavin notn.
I did wake up every mornin and find notn change.
Children them shame to go to school barefoot.
Only a penny to buy lunch.
Man, I have follow this lickle light for change.
I a-follow it, man!

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Books Unlocked October 2017 - Black History Month

In celebration of Black History month we hope you enjoy the displays at Bedford and Luton Libraries.





Monday, 2 October 2017

Books Unlocked - Black History Month

This October, Britain celebrates 30 years of Black History Month.

There is still debate as to whether Black history can be relegated to one month.  Morgan Freeman declared, “I don’t want a Black History month…Black history is American history.”[1] The same can be said of the UK – Black people have been present here for centuries.  Records show small numbers of Black people residing in the UK during the 12th century but with the expansion of the British empire in the 17th and 18th centuries, these numbers increased.  Blacks were enslaved and exploited, while a small handful enjoyed privilege and status.  So, I understand Freeman’s point - Black history is British history, Black history is American history, Black history is world history.  However, there is still a distinct lack of Black History integrated and taught within the National Curriculum.  Where Black history does manage to seep through into formal education, how much highlights and celebrates black pioneers?

Black History month was founded in the UK in October 1987.  The month serves to highlight the achievements and contributions of Black people throughout history and those that strive to shape our society in present day.  With the rise of racial attacks and white supremacists particularly in America, Black History is relevant now more than ever. Check blackhistorymonth.org.uk for a plethora of information.

The University of Bedfordshire library would like to celebrate Black History Month.  There will be a display on level 1 highlighting Black pioneers and historical figures, and a selection of literature by Black writers.  Our blog posts will be updated regularly too!

What are your thoughts on Black History Month?  What does it mean to you?  What Black figures inspire you?  In your opinion, is BHM even relevant?




[1] (rickey2b4, April 2009. Morgan Freeman on Black History Month [video online] Available at: https://youtu.be/GeixtYS-P3s [Accessed 02 October 2017]

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Books Unlocked - Bringing Books to Life

Bringing books to life -

Books that have been made into movies

Many books have been made into movies and the different mediums can bring life to the story in different ways. We have put together a selection of titles in book and movie format to encourage you to explore these differences. 


Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Books Unlocked - Bringing Books to Life




Bringing books to life -

Books that have been made into movies

Many books have been made into movies and the different mediums can bring life to the story in different ways. We have put together a selection of titles in book and movie format to encourage you to explore these differences. We hope that you enjoy our selection.






Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Books Unlocked - Shadows in the Sun

While the sun’s shining, why not immerse yourself in a darker, shadowy summer read this August with a good crime novel from our library collection. From something more light-hearted to the murkier Noir, investigate our crime fiction. Don’t forget, we also have DVDs for those not so sunny summer days.

Bedford and Luton libraries have displays with suggestions to inspire you, or search the library catalogue library.beds.ac.uk for crime fiction/noir/thriller/your favourite crime author to see what we have.


Monday, 3 July 2017

Books Unlocked - Sport

Summer is a time for outdoor activities and we have a huge selection of sporting events to chose from. The Books Unlocked displays at Luton and Bedford libraries help show case and celebrate the sporting events on offer


Monday, 5 June 2017

Books Unlocked - 20 years of Harry Potter

The 20th  publishing anniversary of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone is celebrated at Bedford with some lovely displays. if you can't see them in person I hope you enjoy the photos below.







Thursday, 1 June 2017

Books Unlocked - May - Mindfulness

The mindfulness course has helped me become calm throughout my exam

I am delighted that one of our From Stress to Success activities has been of benefit to you. I will be sure to pass on your comments
One more session at Bedford next week 
Bedford Library level 3 at 13.15 until 14.00 on 25th May

Books Unlocked - 20 years of Harry Potter

This month is 20 years since the first book in the Harry Potter series "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" was published. The book was published in 1997 by Bloomsbury, with an initial print run of 500 copies. This title won a number of awards including: National Book Award and a gold medal in Nestles Smarties Book Prize. It was made into a film in 2001
The pictures below are from the Luton Campus Library display. The photos don't do it justice so I invite you to come in and have a look - especially at our own Lego Hogwarts