Two Memories of Fiction Events on Childhood Reading Experiences

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Illustration via Quentin Blake

Welcome to these two Memories of Fiction project events!

Memories of Children’s Books
Wednesday 31st May 2017
6.30 to 8 p.m.
Putney Library

Shelley Trower, lecturer at the University of Roehampton and project leader of Memories of Fiction: An Oral History of Readers’ Life Stories, and Ferelith Hordon, children’s librarian and editor, will lead a discussion of the items in the Wandsworth collection of Early Children’s Books. The collection will be on display, and the discussion will focus on memories of children’s books, especially as material objects: their covers, their smells, their feel. Please bring memories (or even physical copies) of a children’s book you remember reading!

This event is free, and refreshments will be available. All welcome!

You can read more about this event, and register for it here.

Our Lives in Libraries
Wednesday 7th June 2017
6.30 to 8 p.m.
Balham Library

Shelley Trower, lecturer at the University of Roehampton and project leader of Memories of Fiction: An Oral History of Readers’ Life Stories, and Alison Barton, librarian and book group facilitator, will discuss memories of libraries and what they mean to us, ranging from childhood to the present, from book groups to cuts and hopes for the future. In preparation for the event, please have a think about a visit you remember making to a library!

This event is free, and refreshments will be available. All welcome!

You can read more about this event, and register for it here.

These events are part of the Wandsworth Heritage Festival and supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. If you can’t make it to these events, Memories of Fiction welcome any comments on their blog.

Alumni Q&A: Helen Swinyard’s Library Epiphany

We caught up with Helen Swinyard who completed the MA in Children’s Literature at the NCRCL in 2003. Through the MA, Helen discovered that being a school librarian is an exciting way to pursue her love of children’s literature.

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Helen Swinyard speaking at the Haringey Children’s Book Award which she set up. In the background: authors Philip Womack and 2016 winner SF Said.


What led you to the NCRCL?

I had friends from school studying their undergraduate courses at Roehampton (it was the University of Surrey Roehampton then) and I remember visiting them a couple of times and walking past the NCRCL on campus and thinking ‘what’s that?’ I thought it sounded like an exciting place.

I had always enjoyed reading as a child and wanted to be a writer when I ‘grew up’. So even though the demands of secondary school meant I didn’t read that much, I always wanted to read English at university level. However, during my undergrad degree I had a first year set course and then had second year modules I didn’t really enjoy – the experience wasn’t what I had anticipated at all. Finally when I was completing my degree I suddenly rekindled my love of reading and analysing, and luckily had the chance to carry straight into an MA as I didn’t want it to end! The NCRCL was top of my list.

What did you most enjoy and take from the MA?

It was a real indulgence for me at the time to spend a full year immersing myself in children’s literature and surrounding myself with others who love that world as much as I do. After 3 years of studying general English literature, and having to read things that didn’t really interest me, that year helped me regain my love of reading.

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