Speakers & Workshops

The speaking programme at the bookfair is centered on three themes:
1. Shortlisted authors from the Bread and Roses Award for Radical Publishing,
2. shortlisted authors from the Little Rebels Children’s Book Award, and
3. in solidarity with the Goldsmiths Cut The Rent students, currently engaged in a rent strike at Goldsmiths, as well as with those rent striking at other universities, there we will be a series of talks and workshops looking at different aspects of the housing struggle, with the emphasis on practical advice and activity – hosted by Brick Lane Debates.

Times and rooms to be announced soon.

Shortlisted authors from the Bread and Roses Award for Radical Publishing

Mel Evans on ‘Artwash: Big Oil and the Arts’ (Pluto Press)
2pm – Room 309
Mel Evans breaks down the insidious world of corporate greenwashing, and will also be discussing how the campaign in which she has been involved to stop it has come to be so successful – BP announced recently that they will no longer sponsor the Tate, and the campaign is now threatening the sponsorship of other corporate entities, with BP’s sponsorship of the British Museum looking particularly fragile.

Phil Chamberlain and Dave Smith on ‘Blacklisted: The secret war between big business and union activists’ (New Internationalist)
1pm – Room 147
Phil and Dave share their shocking expose of the blacklisting of manual workers whose only crime has been standing up for health and safety conditions. They present an underworld which involves employers, the government, police, and perhaps most shockingly, betrayal from members of trade unions, whose actions have resulted in victimisation, violence and unemployment, with terrible effects on families and communities.  Their campaign for justice continues to reverberate, both in the UK courts and internationally, for it has become apparent that such blacklisting is not confined to the UK.

Rhian E. Jones on ‘Petticoat Heroes: Gender, Culture and Popular Protest in the Rebecca Riots’ by (University of Wales Press)
2pm – Room 147
Rhian Jones tells of the extraordinary tales of unrest which took place in 1840s Wales, known as ‘Rebeccaism’ or ‘the Rebecca riots’: attacks on tollgates and other symbols of perceived injustice by farmers and workers, outlandishly dressed in bonnets and petticoats and led by the iconic anonymous figure of Rebecca herself. Her book draws on cultural history, gender studies and symbolic anthropology to present fresh and alternative arguments on the meaning of Rebeccaite costume and ritual; the significance of the feminine in protest; the links between protest and popular culture; the use of Rebecca’s image in Victorian press and political discourse; and the ways in which the events and the image of Rebecca herself were integrated into politics, culture and popular memory in Wales and beyond.

 Kate Evans  on ‘Red Rosa: A Graphic Biography of Rosa Luxemburg’ (Verso)
1pm – Room 309
The very talented Kate Evans introduces her beautiful book, vividly telling the extraordinary life of Rosa Luxemburg – Marxist economist, cat-lover and legendary figure of the revolutionary left. Kate will be talking all things Rosa. A true labour of love (Evans read everything by Luxemburg that she could find in English translation, and – as Evans herself says – 19th-century socialists sometimes seem to have been writing as if they were being paid by the word), Red Rosa features stunning images and many memorable scenes.

Jeremy Seabrook on ‘The Song of the Shirt: The High Price of Cheap Garments, from Blackburn to Bangladesh’ (Hurst)
4pm – Room 309
Jeremy Seabrook’s most recent book weaves together the stories of workers in the garment industry of the Industrial Revolution with those of the millions of workers who continue to slave away fabricating clothes today in the Indian subcontinent and beyond. Two hundred years ago the former were dispossessed of ancient skills and their counterparts in Lancashire forced into labour settlements; in a ghostly replay of traffic in the other direction, the decline of Britain’s textile industry coincided with Bangladesh becoming one of the world’s major clothing exporters. The two examples offer mirror images of impoverishment and affluence.

Shortlisted authors from the Little Rebels Children’s Book Award

‘Big Rebels in Conversation: shortlisted authors from the little rebels award for radical children’s books’, in conversation with Wendy Cooling’.  3pm – Room 147


Gill Lewis, author of Gorilla Dawn (Oxford University Press)

Gill Lewis was named winner of the Little Rebels Award in 2015 for Scarlet Ibis and this is now the 3rd time Gill Lewis has been shortlisted (see also Moon Bear)! This is classic Lewis- the interweaving of separate animal and human stories to expose issues around social justice. Set in the Democratic Republic of Congo, this story explores how the farming of a mineral needed for mobile phones is destroying the gorilla’s natural habitat. Linked to this is the story of two children, Imara and Bob, who are held by a group of rebel soldiers. Fundamentally a story about exploitation (by both rebel soldiers and Western companies)- of children, of animals- for profit. Ages 11+


Author Alexis Deacon and Viviane Schwarz illustrator of I Am Henry Finch (Walker Books)

The finches exist as an undifferentiated flock, going through each day together, doing the same thing, at the same pace. And then…one night, one particular finch, Henry Finch, has a thought. And he hears it. And he knows himself to be Henry Finch. And, therefore, also capable of greatness… A highly original philosophical book for the very young, addressing individualism, bravery, finding your way and, even, existentialism. Age 6-11


Uncle Gobb and the Dread Shed by Michael Rosen; illustrated by Neal Layton (Bloomsbury Books)

As the back cover reads, “A completely bonkers book that is not linked to Gobb Education at all”. Malcolm is a sensible 10-year-old full of sensible questions. Which leads to one or two clashes with Uncle Gobb, Uncle Gobb’s world views and his dreaded shed.  Two artists known for their comic touch combine forces to deliver an anarchic story which exposes and shames, hilariously, many aspects of contemporary culture but, in particular, recent educational policies. All done so in a way which nods knowingly to both adults and children. Age 7-10

We  welcome the wonderful illustrator Neal Layton to the panel of speakers. Unfortunately Michael Rosen will be unable to attend as on the 7th May he will be celebrating his 70th birthday! Happy birthday Michael!


Michael Foreman in his studio.

We are delighted to welcome the celebrated and highly prolific children’s author and illustrator Michael Foreman to the London Radical Bookfair.

As well as illustrating countless books for other authors over the years, Michael also writes and illustrates his own books. He enjoys writing about earlier periods of history, including conflict and war, in books such as War Boy: A Country Childhood (1989), War Game(1993), and After The War Was Over (1995). The latter is about the soldiers of the First World War, was shortlisted for a Kate Greenaway Medal and won the Nestlé Smarties Book Prize (Gold Award 6-8 years category and overall winner) in 1993.

His latest books include The Littlest Dinosaur’s Big Adventure (2009), A Child’s Garden: A Story of Hope (2009), Why the Animals Came to Town (2010) and The Tortoise and the Soldier (2015).

He has twice been nominated for the biennial, international Hans Christian Andersen Award for his contribution as a children’s illustrator, first in 1988 and again in 2010.


Why Higher Education Still Matters – Les Back in discussion with Emma Jackson
3pm – Room 309
As part of our hosting of this year’s bookfair with the support and generosity of Goldsmiths, we are delighted to welcome Goldsmiths’ renowned Professor of Sociology, Les Back, to discuss with sociologist and ethnographer Emma Jackson, his latest book ‘Academic Diary: Or Why Higher Education Still Matters’ (Goldsmiths Press).

The book asks is a university education still relevant? What are the forces that threaten it? Should academics ever be allowed near Twitter? In Academic Diary, Les Back has chronicled three decades of his academic career, turning his sharp and often satirical eye to the everyday aspects of life on campus and the larger forces that are reshaping it. Presented as a collection of entries from a single academic year, the diary moves from the local to the global, from PowerPoint to the halls of power. With entries like “Ivory Towers” and “The Library Angel,” these smart, humorous, and sometimes absurd campus tales not only demystify the opaque rituals of scholarship but also offer a personal perspective on the far-reaching issues of university life.

Commenting on topics that range from the impact of commercialization and fee increases to measurement and auditing research, the diary offers a critical analysis of higher education today. At the same time, it is a passionate argument for the life of the mind, the importance of collaborative thinking, and the reasons that scholarship and writing are still vital for making sense of our troubled and divided world.

cut teh rent

On the Campus, On the Estate: Housing Resistance Today
Hosted by Brick Lane Debates

As the crisis in housing has escalated, so has the level of resistance. Marches have been called, estates have been occupied and nearly 1000 students at UCL, Goldsmiths & Roehampton have gone on rent strike. But the future of social housing is precarious, little resistance is occurring in the private rented sector and both Labour and the Tories feel light years way from proposing the supposedly ‘radical’ measures that are needed to rebalance the housing market.

Over two sessions, we’ll attempt to bring together two spaces of resistance – the Campus and the Estate – and ask, what now? How can tactics from the Estate influence the Campus, and vice versa? Do the struggles radically differ, or can they be linked up? How can we make sure resistance starts to bleed into the private rental sector? Who should be the target of resistance – the landlord, policymaker, property developer or all of the above?


// Session 1 – Estates, Occupations & Resistance // 1.30pm-3.00pm Room 300

Social housing in the UK is under threat like never before. Successive waves of attacks, starting with Thatcher’s right-to-buy programme, and going into overdrive under this Tory government, have seen thousands of people driven out of their homes. A pattern has developed whereby local councils run down estates and then, once deeming them no longer fit for inhabitation, sell them on to developers. This has resulted in several of London’s largest estates already being demolished, with others yet still under threat.

This participatory session will look at what can be done to protect social housing, and will include voices of those currently directly involved in defending their homes.

With Lisa Mckenzie, author of Getting By: Estates, Class and Culture in Austerity Britain + Members of Save Cressingham Gardens campaign & Housing Action Southwark & Lambeth.

// Session 2- The Rent Strike Back //  3.30pm-5.00pm Room 300

Deregulation, revenge evictions, parliamentary corruption and day-to-day instability: these are the realities for the eleven million people currently renting privately in the UK. At the same time, house prices are skyrocketing and the generational promise of home ownership is now an impossible dream for many. This is the rent-trap, an inescapable consequence of market-induced inequality.

Drawing on inspiration from movements across Europe and the current growing rent strikes across UK’s universities, this participatory discussion will look at people’s experiences of those fighting against the financial burdens, consider how we can all help in the campaigns, and look for long-term solutions to the problems.

With Rosie Walker and Samir Jeraj, authors of The Rent Trap
Ben Beach of Radical Housing Network and UCL Cut The Rent
Eva Crossan Jory of Goldsmiths Cut The Rent

As always, we’ll approach the subject matter in a participatory, inclusive, relaxed forma. Can’t wait to see you there!

Radical Book Fair 2015-5247

Taking place in the courtyard outside the main doors…

Maggs Dewhurst from the IWGB Couriers and Logistics Branch

Is Chair of the IWGBCLB, who have been campaigning for the London Living Wage for couriers across London since February last year. Recent victories include taking City Sprint and eCourier to court, and winning both cases for fairer wages.

Helen Corry from Bursary or Bust

For the campaign against the NHS bursary cuts. Nursing student and activist who became involved in the bursary campaign and has been published in the guardian.

Dan Goss from Move Your Money

Move Your Money UK is a national campaign for a banking system that helps to build and support a sustainable society, and provides information on the ethical banking sector.

Michael Chessum, From Another Europe is Possible

Michael has campaigned widely for the National Campaign against fees and cuts, was president of ULU, and is currently campaigning for Another Europe is Possible, and is also an activist for Momentum.

Different Skies

Publish bold experiments in creative non-fiction, criticism and poetry, alongside holding regular writers’ meetings & events. They will be performing a mixture of prose, poetry and short fiction

Ich Binn Finn 

Finn D’albert is a songwriter and music journalist, and is Editor in Cheif at Raw Meat magazine. She will be performing her solo work.

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