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The West Midlands Big Translate

1.45–2.45pm, Wednesday 8 June 2016
Short Wood Primary School, Wellington, near Telford, TF1 2JA

On Wednesday 8 June, Short Wood Primary School will be hosting a Big Translate. With the help of graduates of the Translators in Schools programme, 30 children will translate into English five books from around the world. Members of the public are welcome to join us in the school hall for the final hour of the day for a presentation by the children. The West Midlands Big Translate is supported by the Mercers' Company.

The Children's Bookshow

5–6pm, Friday 20 November 2015
Europe House, London SW1P 3EU

Joshua James, who came second in the 18-and-under category in 2014 with his wart-repelling incantatory Anglo-Saxon spell, Against a Wen, will be at the Children's Bookshow with award-winning poet, novelist and translator Kevin Crossley-Holland and writer, editor and translator Daniel Hahn in an Anglo-Saxon translation workshop based on Kevin Crossley-Holland's The Exeter Book Riddles. All are welcome to stay for a glass of wine at 6.30pm and listen to Michael Rosen give an introductory speech about the Children's Bookshow.

Tickets are free, but booking is essential. Please contact to reserve your place. Please also confirm whether you will be able to stay for a glass of wine afterwards.

The Big Translate

1.30–2.30pm, Tuesday 6 October 2015
The Clore Ballroom, Royal Festival Hall, London SE1 8XX (free event)

Led by translators from the Translators in Schools programme, 60 schoolchildren will translate into English ten strikingly illustrated books from around the world. The children will discover that everything – from pictures, to story and tone – needs translating. They'll become code-cracking language detectives, using glossaries to create first a literal translation then a polished, nuanced version. They'll learn what translation involves, what happens to books when they make the journey from one language (and culture) to another, and how languages and translated literature enrich our lives. Come and see the children in action and hear them talk about The Big Translate.

Supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England and by the European Commission.


The Stephen Spender Prize 2004–14

7pm, Thursday 12 March 2015
The Royal Institution, 21 Albemarle St, London W1S 4BS

Generously sponsored by the Old Possum's Practical Trust and directed by Joe Harmston, the evening celebrates the tenth birthday of the Stephen Spender Prize with some wonderful readings of poetry in translation by Noma Dumezweni, Patricia Hodge and Michael Pennington.

Download the programme, read the script and listen to a recording of the readings.

Noma Dumezweni
An RSC Associate, Noma Dumezweni won an Olivier Award for A Raisin in the Sun at the Young Vic. Recent theatre credits include 'Tis Pity She's a Whore and A Human Being Died that Night, and she has appeared in film and on television in The Incident, Out of Darkness, Frankie and Midsomer Murders. Her reading of Constellations by Sarah Hislop was the Radio 4 Christmas 2014 Book of the Week.

Patricia Hodge
Patricia Hodge's extensive stage work ranges from A Little Night Music to The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. She won an Olivier Award for Money at the National Theatre and was recently acclaimed in Relative Values. Her television credits include The Life and Loves of a She-Devil, The Naked Civil Servant, Rumpole of the Bailey and Hotel du Lac. She played Miranda's mother in Miranda.

Michael Pennington
Michael Pennington's new book Let Me Play the Lion Too has just been published by Faber. Recently a triumphant King Lear in New York, he has been a leading actor for 40 years in London's West End, the RSC, the NT and his own ESC. Other books include User's Guides to three Shakespeare plays, Sweet William and Are You There, Crocodile?: Inventing Anton Chekhov.

Joe Harmston
Joe has been a theatre director since leaving Birmingham University in 1990. He has directed over 80 productions in the UK, USA and Europe. Highlights have included The Lover and The Collection by and starring Harold Pinter at the Donmar and The Father in a new version by Laurie Slade at Belgrade Coventry for which he was nominated for Best Director. He has a long history of directing literary events and galas and created The Word Bites Like A Fish with Natasha Spender.

Joseph Brodsky Night

7.30pm, Wednesday 7 May 2014
Dash Café, Rich Mix 35–47 Bethnal Green Road, London, E1 6LA

"The energy and precision of a master and the moral authority of a prophet" – Washington Post

Dash Arts and the Stephen Spender Trust present a first-rate evening of poetry, prose, music, discussion and film exploring the remarkable work and life of Russian poet, Soviet dissident and Nobel Prize winner Joseph Brodsky; for those who know nothing about Brodsky and those who know everything. With readings by Michael Pennington, a panel discussion with Glyn Maxwell and Valentina Polukhina, and live music from Nigel Burch and the Flea Pit Orchestra.

Found in Translation: Children's Literature

3pm, Friday 15 November 2013
Europe House, 32 Smith Square, London SW1P 3EU

The afternoon will feature panel discussions and a translation workshop with award-winning authors and translators for all who are interested in children's literature and children's literature in translation. At 4pm Daniel Hahn will talk to the 14-and-under and 18-and-under winners of the 2012 Times Stephen Spender Prize and Dr Myra Barrs and writer Kevin Crossley-Holland will discuss the challenges of 'translating' the wonderful Anglo-Saxon epic Beowulf into a children's version. An evening reception follows at 6.30pm. Tickets are free from ; booking is essential. More...

Three winners of the Joseph Brodsky/Stephen Spender Prize in conversation with Sasha Dugdale and Glyn Maxwell‏

7–8.30pm, Monday 17 June 2013
Pushkin House, 5a Bloomsbury Square, London, WC1A 2TA

Boris Dralyuk and Irina Mashinski talk to Sasha Dugdale about translating Arseny Tarkovsky; Glyn Maxwell and Alexandra Berlina discuss translating Joseph Brodsky.

New life in life writing?

Wednesday 15 May 2013, 6–7.30pm
Chancellor's Hall, Senate House, University of London, WC1E 7HU
Sarah Bakewell, Sir Michael Holroyd, Wendy Moffat, Max Saunders

Hosted by the Institute of English Studies and Stephen Spender Trust in conjunction with the Centre for Life-Writing Research, King's College London Is the 'Golden Age' of literary biography really past? How have changes in the ways we write the lives of authors responded to changes in the publishing industry? Are trends such as group biography, biographies focused on a part of a life, or 'biofictions' glimpses of the future, or symptoms of a declining interest in the genre? Four prominent and innovative biographers and academics discuss the recent and current state of life writing, drawing upon their own practice.

Sarah Bakewell's biography of Montaigne, How to Live (2010), won the National Book Critics Circle Award in the Biography category. Sir Michael Holroyd, the doyen of British biographers, has published lives of Augustus John, Lytton Strachey, George Bernard Shaw; he has also turned to memoir in Basil Street Blues (1999) and group biography in A Strange Eventful History: The Dramatic Lives of Ellen Terry, Henry Irving and their Remarkable Families (2008) and A Book of Secrets: Illegitimate Daughters, Absent Fathers (2010). Wendy Moffat's E. M. Forster: A New Life (2010) won the Biographers' Club Best First Biography Prize, and reappraised the centrality of homosexuality to Forster's life. Max Saunders has written Ford Madox Ford: A Dual Life (1996), and Self Impression: Life Writing, Autobiografiction, and the Forms of Modern Literature (2010), and is co-director of the Centre for Life-Writing Research at King's College London.
Listen to a podcast of the discussion

Spender, European Witness and German postwar reconstruction

Thursday 14 March 2013, 6–7.30pm
Senate Room, Senate House, University of London, WC1E 7HU
Lara Feigel, Elaine Morley and Matthew Spender

In 1945 Stephen Spender spent six months in occupied Germany helping with the reconstruction of universities and libraries. His mission was partly political (he wanted to mediate between German and British culture at a time when the British government thought the Germans were incapable of cultural renewal), partly literary (he was keen to experience the extraordinary landscape of ruined Germany first hand) and partly personal (he wanted to make contact with ER Curtius, his mentor from before the war). The trips resulted in his Rhineland Journal, published in Horizon, and in European Witness (1946), one of the first and still one of the most eloquent accounts of the German landscape, society and culture in the immediate postwar period.

Lara Feigel (co-editor of the New Selected Journals of Stephen Spender), Elaine Morley (an expert on Anglo-German literary networks) and Matthew Spender (the poet's son, who has recently uncovered new material on Spender's time in Germany in the National Archives) discuss Spender, European Witness and German reconstruction.

Listen to a podcast of the discussion

Bernard Spencer: Mystery Poet

Jonathan Barker, Valentine Cunningham and Peter Robinson discuss the writer's life, his work and his contemporaries. Chaired by Warwick Gould
Presented by the Institute of English Studies and the Stephen Spender Trust Thursday 11 October 2012, 6–7.30pm
Senate Room, Senate House, University of London, WC1E 7HU
Listen to a podcast of the discussion

Encounter, the CIA, the IRD and the relationship of British intellectuals with the Establishment

Listen to a podcast of the evening
Friday 20 January 2012, 6–8pm
Institute of English Studies, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU
Jason Harding, Maren Roth, James Smith, Matthew Spender and Frances Stonor Saunders
In 1967 it was revealed that the magazine Encounter had been secretly financed by the CIA since its foundation. Stephen Spender, its British co-editor, resigned. Its American editor Melvin Lasky stayed on. Whereas the CIA aspect has received much publicity and several academic studies, the involvement of the British co-sponsors, the Information Research Department of the Foreign Office, has largely been ignored. This symposium discusses the extent to which editorial decisions were compromised by the magazine’s secret sponsors, what were the differences in outlook and policy between the CIA and the IRD, and what damage was caused by the revelation of its secret agenda. Though the symposium concentrates on Encounter, it also addresses the larger question of Anglo-American cultural relationships.

The speakers are: Jason Harding (Durham University, and TS Eliot Project, Institute of English Studies); Maren Roth (currently writing a biography of Melvin Lasky and supervisor of the Lasky papers in Munich); James Smith (New College, currently writing a book on British intellectuals and the Establishment); Matthew Spender (son of Stephen Spender and a board member of the Stephen Spender Trust); Frances Stoner Saunders (author of Who Paid the Piper?: CIA and the Cultural Cold War).

Stephen Spender: Life and Work, Poetry and Prose

Thursday 20 October 2011, 6pm
Institute of English Studies, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU
Alan Jenkins, Christopher Reid and John Sutherland in conversation, chaired by Lara Feigel

Stephen Spender was a poet who used personal experience as a basis for his writing, often reworking the same experiences in his poetry, his journals and his autobiography World Within World. This discussion explores the relationship between the life and the work and between the poetry and the prose, looking at key episodes in his life that appear in multiple texts. The speakers also showcase new, previously unknown work by Spender. The poet Alan Jenkins introduces an unpublished poem recently discovered in the Spender archive and literary critics Lara Feigel and John Sutherland preview their edition of Spender’s previously unpublished journals (Faber, May 2012). They are joined by the poet Christopher Reid who worked closely with Spender on his 1994 collection Dolphins.

Highlights of the Stephen Spender centenary year 2009

Tuesday 13 October 2009
Centenary reading
With Fleur Adcock, Grey Gowrie and Craig Raine
The Chapel, University College, Oxford, OX1 4BH
Saturday 28 February 2009
Centenary celebration
• A lecture by John Smart
• Readings of original poetry by current Gresham’s pupils
• Recordings of Spender reading prose, poetry and in discussion
• A display of Spender’s work and memorabilia
Auden Theatre, Gresham’s School, Cromer Road, Holt, Norfolk NR25 6EA
Friday 27 February 2009
Centenary conference
With John Sutherland, Barbara Hardy, Valentine Cunningham, Peter McDonald, Mark Rawlinson, Alan Jenkins, Stephen Romer, Michael Scammell
Institute of English Studies, University of London, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU
26 February 2009 Centenary Reading
With Grey Gowrie, Tony Harrison, Seamus Heaney, Barry Humphries, Andrew Motion and Natasha Spender
A John Coffin memorial event
Faraday Theatre, The Royal Institution, 21 Albemarle Street, London W1S 4BS
Listen to a recording of the reading