Born This Week: Emmeline Pankhurst

‘Deeds Not Words’

This week we celebrate Emmeline Goulden Pankhurst, who was born on 15 July 1858 in Manchester, England to liberal-minded parents who supported both the antislavery and women’s suffrage movements.

Pankhurst attended her first suffrage meeting with her mother at the tender age of 14, she then became devoted to the cause of women’s suffrage.

In 1903, Pankhurst founded the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), an all-women suffrage advocacy organisation dedicated to “deeds, not words”.


Hundreds of women, including Pankhurst, went on hunger strikes during their numerous imprisonments. Prison officials resorted to violent force-feeding of the women, some of whom actually died from the procedure. Newspaper accounts of such mistreatment helped to generate sympathy for the suffragists. 

The Right To Vote

Finally in 1918 that the Representation of the People Act was passed. This gave women over the age of 30, who met a property qualification to vote. Although 8.5 million women met this criteria, it was only about two-thirds of the total population of women in the UK. It was not until the Equal Franchise Act of 1928 that all women over 21 were able to vote – achieving the same voting rights as men at the time.

Pankhurst grew up all too aware of the prevailing attitude of her day: that men were considered superior to women. Throughout the course of her career she endured humiliation, prison, hunger strikes and the repeated frustration of her aims by men in power, but she rose to become a guiding light of the Suffragette movement. This is the story, in Pankhurst’s own words, of her struggle for equality. Borrow now.

Kate Pankhurst, descendent of Emmeline Pankhurst, has created this wildly wonderful and accessible book about women who really changed the world. Discover fascinating facts about some of the most amazing women who changed the world we live in, including Jane Austen, Gertrude Ederle, Coco Chanel, Frida Kahlo, Marie Curie, Mary Anning, Mary Seacole, Amelia Earhart, Agent Fifi, Sacagawa, Emmeline Pankhurst, Rosa Parks and Anne Frank. Borrow now.

Explore the stories of other great women, available from our e-library.

Desert Flower, The Extraordinary Journey of a Desert by Waris Dirie

Waris Dirie leads a double life — by day, she is an international supermodel and human rights ambassador for the United Nations; by night, she dreams of the simplicity of life in her native Somalia and the family she was forced to leave behind. Desert Flower, her intimate and inspiring memoir, is a must-read for anyone who has ever wondered about the beauty of African life, the chaotic existence of a supermodel, or the joys of new motherhood. Borrow now.

Life isn’t All Ha Ha Hee Hee by Meera Syal

Sunita – perfect housewife – is married to Akash, but is her marriage what it seems? Chila – warm, loveable – has married with great fanfare the entrepreneur Deepak. But are they really in love? Tania – beautiful, rebellious – has rejected her traditional upbringing for a top television career. But is she really as tough as she says? Borrow now.

The Things A Bright Girl Can Do by Sally Nicholls

 Through rallies and marches, in polite drawing rooms and freezing prison cells and the poverty-stricken slums of the East End, three courageous young women join the fight for the vote. Borrow now.

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Celebrating Black Authors: Classic Works

Discover classic works by some of the most important black authors of the Twentieth Century, available to borrow from our e-library.

Zora Neale Hurston

(7 January 1891 – 28 January 1960). Born in Notasulga, Alabama, the fifth of eight children, Hurston published her first story in 1921. As well as an author, she was also an anthropologist and a filmmaker. Her works portrayed racial struggles in the early-1900s American South.

Hurston’s work Their Eyes Were Watching God brings to life a Southern love story with the wit and pathos. Out of print for almost thirty years—due largely to initial audiences’ rejection of its strong black female protagonist—Hurston’s classic has, since its 1978 reissue, become perhaps the most widely read and highly acclaimed novel in the canon of African-American literature.

Ralph Ellison

(1 March 1914 – 16 April 1994). Born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Ellison knew what it was like to be a black man in both the segregated South and the treacherously half-accepting North. He worked as a shoeshine boy, a busboy, a hotel waiter, and an assistant in a dentist’s office. He escaped those jobs, studied music at the Tuskegee Institute, then left for New York and never returned.

Ellison’s blistering and impassioned first novel, Invisible Man, tells the extraordinary story of a man who is invisible ‘simply because people refuse to see me’. Yet his powerfully depicted adventures – from a terrifying Harlem race riot to his expulsion from a Southern college – go far beyond the story of one man. The lives of countless millions are evoked in this superb portrait of a generation of black Americans.

Toni Morrison

(18 February 1931 – 5 August 2019). Toni Morrison was born in Lorain, Ohio, the second of four children from a working-class family. Her family frequently experienced racism including when Morrison was about two years old, the family’s landlord set fire to their house while they were inside, because her parents couldn’t pay the rent. Morrison’s parents instilled in her a sense of heritage and language through telling traditional African-American folktales, ghost stories, and singing songs.

Is who we are really only skin deep? In Race, Morrison unravels race through the stories of those debased and dehumanised because of it. A young black girl longing for the blue eyes of white baby dolls spirals into inferiority and confusion. A friendship falls apart over a disputed memory. Strange and unexpected, yet always stirring, Morrison’s writing on race sinks us deep into the heart and mind of our troubled humanity.

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Toni Morrison’s Beloved is a spellbinding and dazzlingly innovative portrait of a woman haunted by the past. Sethe was born a slave and escaped to Ohio, but eighteen years later she is still not free. She has borne the unthinkable and not gone mad, yet she is still held captive by memories of Sweet Home, the beautiful farm where so many hideous things happened. Meanwhile Sethe’s house has long been troubled by the angry, destructive ghost of her baby, who died nameless and whose tombstone is engraved with a single word: Beloved.

James Baldwin

(2 August 1924 – 1 December 1987). Growing up in Harlem, New York, Baldwin faced many obstacles, one of which was his education: “I knew I was black, of course, but I also knew I was smart. I didn’t know how I would use my mind, or even if I could, but that was the only thing I had to use”.

When Another Country appeared in 1962, it caused a literary sensation. James Baldwin’s masterly story of desire, hatred and violence opens with the unforgettable character of Rufus Scott, a scavenging Harlem jazz musician adrift in New York. Self-destructive, bad and brilliant, he draws us into a Bohemian underworld pulsing with heat, music and sex, where desperate and dangerous characters betray, love and test each other to the limit.

One of the BBC’s ‘100 Novels That Shaped Our World’, Baldwin’s ground-breaking second novel, Giovanni’s Room, tells the story of David, a young American in 1950s Paris, waiting for his fiancée to return from vacation in Spain. But when he meets Giovanni, a handsome Italian barman, the two men are drawn into an intense affair. Baldwin caused outrage as a black author writing about white homosexuals, yet for him the issues of race, sexuality and personal freedom were eternally intertwined.

Maya Angelou

(4 April 1928—28 May 2014). Although born in St. Louis, Angelou spent much of her childhood in the care of her paternal grandmother in rural Stamps, Arkansas. When she was not yet eight years old, she was raped by her mother’s boyfriend and told of it, after which he was murdered; the traumatic sequence of events left her almost completely mute for several years.

This early life and its trauma is the focus of her first autobiographical work, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Detailing abandonment by her mother and the racism and trauma she experienced, Angelou also describes how years later in San Francisco, she learns that love for herself, the kindness of others, her own strong spirit and the ideas of great authors could finally allow her to be free.

Alex Haley

(11 August 1921 – 10 February 1992). Born in Ithaca, New York, he soon moved with his mother to Henning, Tennessee while his father finished his degree at Cornell University. While in Tennessee, Haley’s future work would be greatly influenced by his grandmother, who often recited the family history at gatherings. During World War II, Haley worked as a cook stationed in the Pacific. There, he began to write to alleviate the monotony of life on the ship.

Haley was best known for his historical work, including the widely-acclaimed Roots. Tracing his ancestry through six generations – slaves and freedmen, farmers and blacksmiths, lawyers and architects – back to Africa, Haley discovered a sixteen-year-old youth, Kunta Kinte. It was this young man, who had been torn from his homeland and in torment and anguish brought to the slave markets of the New World, who held the key to Haley’s deep and distant past.

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Graphic Novels

Discover graphic novels available from our e-library, exploring great moments in black history and telling superhero stories. 

Martin Luther King Jr. by Jennifer Lee Fandel
Brian Bascle

A biography telling the life story of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and his leadership in the civil rights movement to stop racism, segregation, and discrimination in the United States.

The City Born Great by N. K. Jemisin.

New York City is about to go through a few changes. Like all great metropolises before it, when a city gets big enough, old enough, it must be born; but there are ancient enemies who cannot tolerate new life. Thus New York will live or die by the efforts of a reluctant midwife…and how well he can learn to sing the city’s mighty song.

Civil War: Black Panther by Reginald Hudlin and
Scot Eaton

The Royal Couple, King T’Challa and Queen Ororo, embark on a diplomatic tour visiting the Civil War-ravaged United States, for a meeting with none other than the point man for the U.S. government’s implementation of the Superhuman Registration Act: Tony Stark, T’Challa’s former Avengers teammate. Will the Black Panther and Storm decide to get off the sidelines of the Civil War and get involved?

Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet, Book 1, by Ta-Nehisi Coates and Brian Stelfreeze

A new era begins for the Black Panther! MacArthur Genius and National Book Award-winning writer Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me) takes the helm, confronting T’Challa with a dramatic upheaval in Wakanda that will make leading the African nation tougher than ever before.

Black Panther: The Complete Collection, Volume 1, by Christopher Priest and Joe Quesada

Black Panther reinvented as a sharp and witty political satire? Believe it! T’Challa is the man with the plan as Christopher Priest puts the emphasis on the Wakandan king’s reputation as the ultimate statesman, as seen through the eyes of the U.S. government’s Everett K. Ross.

Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Volume 1, by Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Pichelli

Before Peter Parker died, young Miles was poised to start the next chapter in his life in a new school. Then, a spider’s bite granted the teenager incredible arachnid-like powers. Now, Miles has been thrust into a world he doesn’t understand, with only gut instinct and a little thing called responsibility as his guides. Can he live up to Peter’s legacy as Spider-Man?

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Black Lives Matter – Reading for Children and Teens

Explore these titles celebrating black authors, stories and characters – for all ages, available from our e-library.

If All The World Were… by Joseph Coelho & Allison Colpoys

A moving, lyrical picture book about a young girl’s love for her granddad and how she copes when he dies, written by poet and playwright Joseph Coelho. This beautifully illustrated, powerful and ultimately uplifting text is the ideal way to introduce children to the concept of death and dying, particularly children who have lost a grandparent.

Julian Is A Mermaid by Jessica Love

While riding the subway home from the pool with his Abuela one day, Julián notices three women spectacularly dressed up. Their hair billows in brilliant hues, their dresses end in fishtails, and their joy fills the train car. When Julián gets home, daydreaming of the magic he’s seen, all he can think about is dressing up just like the ladies in his own fabulous mermaid costume: But what will Abuela think about how Julián sees himself?

Granny Ting Ting by Patrice Lawrence

Nine-year-old Michael is coming from London to Trinidad to visit his grandmother, who is recovering from a difficult operation, and his ten-year-old cousin, Shayla. A fierce rivalry develops between the two children and everything becomes a competition—who can eat the hottest food, climb the tallest tree, tell the spookiest story. Michael wins each time and Shayla confesses to her mum that she feels Michael’s life is much more exciting than hers. Luckily Shayla’s mum has a plan…

Too Much Trouble by Tom Avery

‘Get out, Emmanuel!” growled my uncle. “Take your brother and go.”But where can two boys go when they’re on their own, on the run, with little money or food? All 12-year-old Emmanuel knows is that he has to look after Prince. On the train to London, Em and Prince have no idea where they will end up – but then they meet the mysterious Mr Green and his “friends”. And that’s when things start to spin out of control…

The Curious Tale of The Lady Caraboo by Catherine Johnson

Out of the blue arrives an exotic young woman from a foreign land. Fearless and strong, ‘Princess’ Caraboo rises above the suspicions of the wealthy family who take her in. But who is the real Caraboo? In a world where it seems everyone is playing a role, could she be an ordinary girl with a tragic past? Is she a confidence trickster? Or is she the princess everyone wants her to be?

The Crossover Graphic Novel by Kwame Alexander

‘With a bolt of lightning on my kicks . . . The court is SIZZLING. My sweat is DRIZZLING. Stop all that quivering. ‘Cuz tonight I’m delivering,’ raps twelve-year-old Josh Bell. Thanks to their dad, he and his twin brother, Jordan, are kings on the court. But Josh has more than basketball in his blood – he’s got mad beats, too, which help him find his rhythm when it’s all on the line.

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

Xiomara has always kept her words to herself. When it comes to standing her ground in her Harlem neighbourhood, she lets her fists and her fierceness do the talking. But X has secrets – her feelings for a boy in her bio class, and the notebook full of poems that she keeps under her bed. And a slam poetry club that will pull those secrets into the spotlight. Because in spite of a world that might not want to hear her, Xiomara refuses to stay silent.

Children of Blood and Bone and Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi

Tomi Adeyemi conjures a stunning world of dark magic and danger in her two-part West African-inspired fantasy.

Somebody Give This Heart A Pen by Sophia Thakur

From acclaimed performance poet Sophia Thakur comes a powerful first collection of poems exploring issues of identity, difference, faith, relationships, fear, loss and joy. Intricate, evocative and dazzling – these are poems that explore the experiences that connect people; they encourage readers to look within and explore the tendencies of the heart.

“I Will Not Be Erased” by gal-dem

gal-dem, the award-winning online and print magazine, is created by women and non-binary people of colour. In this life-affirming, moving and joyous collection of fourteen essays, gal-dem’s talented writers use raw material from their teenage years – diaries, poems and chat histories – to give advice to their younger selves and those growing up today.

Noughts and Crosses, Malorie Blackman

Sephy is a Cross, a member of the dark-skinned ruling class. Callum is a Nought, a ‘colourless’ member of the underclass who were once slaves to the Crosses. The two have been friends since early childhood. But that’s as far as it can go. Against a background of prejudice and distrust, intensely highlighted by violent terrorist activity by Noughts, a romance builds between Sephy and Callum, a romance that is to lead both of them into terrible danger.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Soon afterward, his death is a national headline.

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Your Perfect Summer Read!

Deciding what to read next can be tricky – let us take the strain with some fantastic titles to help you unwind and make the most of summer.

Our staff have picked a great selection of crime, romance and comedy for relaxing summer reading, all available from our e-library. So put your feet up and get ready for the great escape!

Top Staff Recommendations

Kate recommends: Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty

Perfect lives or perfect lies? The unputdownable Sunday Times No. 1 bestseller and Richard & Judy Book Club pick, from the author of HBO’s award-winning Big Little Lies.

Nine perfect strangers, each hiding an imperfect life. A luxury retreat cut off from the outside world. Ten days that promise to change your life. But some promises – like some lives – are perfect lies. Borrow now.

Those People by Louise Candlish

From the bestselling author of Our House, winner of the Crime & Thriller Book of the Year Award.

Lowland Way is a suburban paradise….until Darren and Jodie move in. Early one Sunday, a horrific crime shocks the street. As the residents close ranks, everyone’s story is the same. They did it. But there’s a problem. The police don’t agree. Borrow now.

Dhurata recommends: A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes

Broadcaster and classicist Natalie Haynes retells the story of the Trojan War from an all-female perspective, for fans of Madeline Miller and Pat Barker. Powerfully told from an all-female perspective, in A Thousand Ships Natalie Haynes gives voices to the women, girls and goddesses who, for so long, have been silent. Borrow now.

The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree by Shokoofeh Azar

Shortlisted for the 2020 International Booker Prize.

An extraordinarily powerful and evocative literary novel set in Iran in the period immediately after the Islamic Revolution in 1979. Using the lyrical magic realism style of classical Persian storytelling, Azar draws the reader deep into the heart of a family caught in the post-revolutionary chaos and brutality that sweeps across an ancient land and its people. Borrow now.

Other great titles

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

Winner of the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2019

‘A moving portrayal of the effects of a wrongful conviction on a young African-American couple.’ – Barack Obama

Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of the American Dream and the New South. But soon they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined. Roy is arrested and sentenced to twelve years for a crime Celestial knows he didn’t commit. Though fiercely independent, Celestial finds herself bereft and unmoored, taking comfort in Andre, her childhood friend, and best man at their wedding. Borrow now.

The Salt Path by Raynor Winn

Penniless, and homeless, Raynor and her terminally ill husband Moth, walk 630 miles along the South West Coast Path. Their journey, as they struggle with the weather, homelessness, bankruptcy and Moth’s illness, becomes one of discovery and joy. An inspirational Read! Borrow now.

The Binding by Bridget Collins

Painful and treacherous memories are bound into books and minds are wiped clean. But what happens to those who have lost their memories? Emmett, recovering from illness, goes to live with the book binder and finds love … but what else does he discover? You won’t put this book down until you know. Borrow now.

Foxglove Summer by Ben Aaronovitch

In small Herefordshire village, the local police are reluctant to admit that there might be a supernatural element to the disappearance of some local children. But while you can take the copper out of London, you can’t take the London out of the copper and Peter soon finds himself caught up in a deep mystery and what’s more, all the shops are closed by 4pm…

Summer’s Child by Diane Chamberlain

On the morning of her eleventh birthday, Daria Cato finds an abandoned newborn baby on the beach. When the infant’s identity cannot be uncovered, she is adopted by Daria’s loving family. Now, twenty years later, Shelly has grown into an unusual, ethereal young woman. But when a TV producer friend of Daria’s comes to do a story about her, something precarious shifts in the small town of Kill Devil Hills…

A Summer at Sea by Katie Fforde

When Emily’s best friend Rebecca asks whether she’d like to spend the summer cooking on a “puffer” boat just off the Scottish coast, she jumps at the chance. But she finds herself with a lot on her plate. Rebecca is heavily pregnant and is thrilled to have her friend doing most of the work. Then there’s Alasdair, the handsome local doctor who Emily’s trying not to notice, because if she falls in love with him, will she ever want her old life back again?

Arctic Summer by Damon Galgut

In 1912, the SS Birmingham approaches India. On board is Morgan Forster, novelist and man of letters. It will be another twelve years, and a second time spent in India, before A Passage to India, E. M. Forster’s great work of literature, is published. During these years, Morgan will come to a profound understanding of the infinite subtleties and complexity of human nature.

Once Upon a Time In The West…Country by Tony Hawks

Comedian and born and bred townie, Tony Hawks is not afraid of a challenge – or indeed a good bet. He has hitchhiked round Ireland with a fridge and taken on the Moldovan football team at tennis, one by one. Now the time has come for his greatest gamble yet – turning his back on comfortable city life to move to the wilds of the West Country. In the epic battle of man vs countryside, who will win out?

One Mallorcan Summer by Peter Kerr

Having battled and succumbed to the ‘maNana’ pace of rural Mallorca, spring sees Peter Kerr and family relaxing into a supposedly simpler way of life, growing oranges on their little valley farm.  However, even after the trials, tribulations and triumphs of their initiation, Spain has not yet finished with them – surprises aplenty await this venturesome Emigre family.

The Holiday by T.M. Logan

It was supposed to be the perfect holiday, dreamed up by Kate as the ideal way to turn 40: four best friends and their husbands and children in a luxurious villa under the blazing sunshine of Languedoc-Roussillon. But there’s trouble in paradise. Kate suspects that her husband is having an affair, and that the other woman is one of her best friends. But which one? As she closes in on the truth, Kate realises too late that the stakes are far higher than she ever imagined…

The Last Summer by Andrée A. Michaud

A provocative, disturbing, yet oh so readable and gripping story set on the Canadian, US border in 1967. Two girls run wild during the summer holidays, then one disappears, altering, changing, and affecting lives forever more. This award winning novel has been translated from French, and was originally published in the UK as Boundary

The Lying Room by Nicci French

Neve Connolly looks down at a murdered man. She doesn’t call the police. ‘You know, it’s funny,’ Detective Inspector Hitching said. ‘Whoever I see, they keep saying, talk to Neve Connolly, she’ll know. She’s the one people talk to, she’s the one people confide in.’ A trusted colleague and friend. A mother. A wife. Neve Connolly is all these things. She has also made mistakes; some small, some unconsciously done, some large, some deliberate. She is only human, after all, but could she be a murderer? 

Deep State by Chris Hauty

Recently elected President Richard Monroe—populist, controversial, and divisive—is at the center of an increasingly polarised Washington, DC. Never has the partisan drama been so tense or the paranoia so rampant. In the midst of contentious political turf wars, the White House chief of staff is found dead in his house. A tenacious intern discovers a single, ominous clue that suggests he died from something other than natural causes, and that a wide-ranging conspiracy is running beneath the surface of everyday events.

The Accomplice by Joseph Kanon

Max Weill has never forgotten the atrocities he saw as a prisoner at Auschwitz—nor the face of Dr. Otto Schramm, a camp doctor who worked with Mengele on appalling experiments and who sent Max’s family to the gas chambers. At the end of the war Schramm was one of the many high-ranking former-Nazi officers who escaped to a new life in South America, now with his life nearing its end, Max asks his nephew Aaron Wiley—an American CIA desk analyst—to track down Otto and bring him to trial.

A Conspiracy of Bones by Kathy Reichs

It’s sweltering in Charlotte, North Carolina and Temperance Brennan, still recovering from neurosurgery following an aneurysm, is battling nightmares, migraines, and what she thinks might be hallucinations when she receives a series of mysterious text messages, each containing a new picture of a corpse that is missing its face and hands. Immediately, she’s anxious to know who the dead man is, and why the images were sent to her.

The Siberian Dilemma by Martin Cruz Smith

 Journalist Tatiana Petrovna has disappeared. Arkady Renko, iconic Moscow investigator and Tatiana’s on-off lover, hasn’t seen her since she left on a case over a month ago. No one else thinks Renko should be worried – Tatiana is known to disappear during deep assignments – but he knows her enemies all too well and the criminal lengths they will go to keep her quiet, and so he embarks on a dangerous journey to Siberia to find Tatiana and bring her back.

The Secret Hours by Santa Montefiore

Arethusa Clayton has always been formidable, used to getting her own way. On her death, she leaves unexpected instructions. Instead of being buried in America, on the wealthy East Coast where she and her late husband raised their two children, Arethusa has decreed that her ashes be scattered in a remote corner of Ireland, on the hills overlooking the sea. Her daughter Faye feels bereft and travels to picturesque Ballinakelly to find out the reason for her mother’s unlikely request.

My One True North by Milly Johnson

Laurie and Pete should never have met. But fate has pushed them together for a reason. Six months ago, on the same night, Laurie and Pete both lost their partners. Struggling to manage the grief, they join the same counselling group – and meet each other.   From their sadness, Pete and Laurie find happiness growing and they sense a fresh new beginning.  Except, the more they talk, the more they begin to spot the strange parallels in their stories…

The Butterfly Box by Santa Montefiore

Federica Campione adores her father. No matter that Ramon, a distinguished traveller and writer, spends months away from their home on the exotic Chilean coast; as soon as he’s back, his daughter has eyes for no one but him. When he gives her a magical box from Peru she believes he will always be there for her. As she grows to womanhood can Federica ever truly escape her gilded cage and learn the true lesson of the butterfly box?

The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See

Set on the Korean island of Jeju, The Island of Sea Women follows Mi-ja and Young-sook, two girls from very different backgrounds, as they begin working in the sea with their village’s all-female diving collective. Over many decades they develop the closest of bonds. Nevertheless, their differences are impossible to ignore and after hundreds of dives and years of friendship, forces outside their control will push their relationship to the breaking point.

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Pride 2020: Other Worlds

Explore the third collection of books from our e-library exploring Other Worlds: LGBT+ graphic novels and Sci-Fi. Plus take a look at our ‘Coming of Age’ and ‘Love and Friendship’ collections.

Havemercy, Jaida Jones &
Danielle Bennett

This stunning epic fantasy debut introduces two exciting new authors—and a world brimming with natural and man-made wonders, LGBT+ romance, extraordinary events, and a crisis that will test the mettle of men, the boundaries of magic, and the heart and soul of a kingdom.

The Color of Love, Kiyo Ueda

High schooler Nao is in love with his best friend, Taira, but is adamant about keeping his feelings secret. When Taira begins to notice a change in his friend, will Nao deny his feelings or accept them? Short, sweet, and always sexy, the Color of Love shows that true love often comes in many different forms. After all, love isn’t black and white—it comes in a variety of shades!

Are You My Mother, Alison Bechdel

Trailblazing LGBT+ graphic author Alison Bechdel’s acclaimed memoir about her mother – a voracious reader, a music lover, a passionate amateur actor. Also a woman, unhappily married to a gay man, whose artistic aspirations simmered under the surface of Bechdel’s childhood… 

The Legend of Korra: Turf Wars, Part One,  Michael Dante DiMartino

Relishing their newfound feelings for each other, Korra and Asami leave the Spirit World . . . but find nothing in Republic City but political hijinks and human vs. spirit conflict. Korra and Asami vow to look out for each other—but first, they’ve got to get better at being a team and a couple!

Change of Heart, Mary Calmes

As a young gay man—and a werepanther—all Jin Rayne yearns for is a normal life. Having fled his past, he wants nothing more than to start over, but Jin’s old life doesn’t want to let him go.

The Diviners, Libba Bray

The first of a four-part series is set in Manhattan during the 1920s following a group of Diviners, teens with special paranormal powers. A wild new ride full of dames and dapper dons, jazz babies and Prohibition-defying parties, conspiracy and prophecy. Featuring in particular two characters, one of whom is gay and the other who is asexual.

Radiant Days, Elizabeth Hand

It is 1978. Merle is in her first year at the Corcoran School of Art. It is also 1870. The teenage poet Arthur Rimbaud is on the verge of breaking through. The meshed power of words and art thins the boundaries between the present and the past—and allows these two troubled, brilliant artists to enter each other’s worlds.

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Pride 2020: Love and Friendship

Explore the second collection of books from our e-library celebrating LGBT+ love and friendship and take a look at our ‘Coming of Age’ and ‘Other Worlds’ collections.

Long Distance Coffee, Emma Sterner-Radley

New York personal trainer Erin Black lives a solitary life plagued by insomnia. Isabella Martinez, a former CEO turned writer, is stuck in a platonic relationship in Florida with her baby boy. One sleepless night on social media, they strike up a conversation that changes their lives. Over midnight cups of coffee, they try to resist the powerful chemistry that builds between them.

If You Could Be Mine, Sarah Farizan

Seventeen-year-old Sahar has been in love with her best friend, Nasrin, since they were six. But Iran is a dangerous place for two girls in love—Sahar and Nasrin could be beaten, imprisoned, even executed if their relationship came to light. So they carry on in secret—until Nasrin’s parents announce that they’ve arranged for her marriage.

Idlewild, Jude Sierra

In a last ditch effort to bring the downtown Detroit gastro pub he started with his late husband back to life, Asher Schenck fires everyone and hires a completely new staff. Among them is Tyler Heyward, a 23-year-old recent college graduate in need of funds to pay for med school. As their relationship shifts from business to friendship, Tyler falls for Asher.

We Set The Dark On Fire, Tehlor Kay Mejia

At the Medio School for Girls, distinguished young women are trained for one of two roles in their polarized society. Depending on her specialization, a graduate will one day run a husband’s household or raise his children, but Dani is hiding a major secret about her citizenship status in Medio – namely that it’s all a lie, and one that comes with deadly consequences if she’s found out.

Let’s Talk About Love, Claire Kann

Alice had her whole summer planned. Nonstop all-you-can-eat buffets while marathoning her favorite TV shows (best friends totally included) with the smallest dash of adulting—working at the library to pay her share of the rent. The only thing missing from her perfect plan? Her girlfriend.

Hold, Michael Donkor

When housemaid Belinda is summoned from Ghana to London to befriend a troubled girl Amma, she encounters a city as bewildering as it is exciting. As she tries to impose order on her unsettling new world, Belinda’s phonecalls back home to Mary become a lifeline. But as the Brixton summer turns to autumn, Belinda and Amma are surprised to discover the beginnings of an unexpected kinship and the secrets they’ve both been holding tight to threaten to seep out…

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Windrush Day – 22 June – Essential Reading

The Windrush Generation

In 1948, Britain was just starting to recover from World War II. Thousands of buildings had been bombed and the country and economy needed to be rebuilt.

Many Caribbean countries were still under British rule and not yet independent. Some 10,000 Caribbean soldiers left their homes and families to join the British Armed Forces. Their contributions both behind the scenes and on the front line were key to the successful defeat of the Nazis.

The British Government realised that encouraging immigration from its Commonwealth countries was a necessary step to help rebuild the country as there was a shortage of labour after WW2. In 1948 the British Nationality Act was passed, allowing all British subjects the right to travel to and settle in the United Kingdom.

In Windrush: A Ship Through Time, Paul Arnott explores the epic story of a vessel that played a part in some of the most momentous events of the twentieth century, and whose fateful 1948 voyage continues to have consequences – both personal and political – today. Borrow from our e-library.

Empire Windrush

The HMT Empire Windrush ship carried 492 Caribbean migrants who came as a result of the promise of prosperity and employment. Each had paid £28 to travel to Great Britain in response to job advertisements in local Caribbean newspapers. 

Traveling on board was Aldwyn Roberts, aka ‘Lord Kitchener’, who sang the first two stanzas of London is the Place for Me, a 1948 calypso song on camera for reporters upon arrival at Tilbury Docks, recorded by Pathe newsreel cameras.

A Journey of Expectations…

The thirty day journey from Kingston to Tilbury was long and at times rough. Nausea and sea sickness were common and kept at bay using home remedies like black pepper tea. The classrooms of the Caribbean had taught passengers that the ‘Mother Country’ was a grand and incredible place with streets paved with actual gold. On 22nd June passengers started to disembark at Tilbury Docks to begin their new lives in Britain.

Andrea Levy’s epic novel Small Island, adapted for the stage by Helen Edmundson, journeys from Jamaica to Britain in 1948 – the year the HMT Empire Windrush docked at Tilbury. It premiered at the National Theatre, London, in April 2019, directed by Rufus Norris. Borrow from our e-library and stream the adaptation via National Theatre’s YouTube from 7pm on 18 June — 25 June.

Also read Back to My Own Country: An essay by Andrea Levy on racism and the events which compelled her to use writing as a tool to understand her Caribbean heritage, available on the British Library website.

Racism on arrival

The multicultural nature of the Caribbean islands meant that for many Caribbean migrants prejudice and racism was an alien concept to them. They were not prepared for the cold and hostile reception they received from the ‘Mother Country’.

Signs decreeing ‘No Dogs, No Irish, No Blacks’ lined the windows of many of London’s boarding houses. Accommodation was difficult to find and cramped – sometimes with nine people sharing a room – and had no indoor plumbing.

Racial slurs were common in both the workplace and in everyday life. Skilled workers were relegated to menial tasks and Caribbean school certificates from exam boards marked in England were not accepted.  The threat of violence was commonplace from the racist ‘Teddy Boy’ gangs that roamed the streets of London.

Trinidadian author Samuel Selvon’s iconic modernist novel The Lonely Londoners, first published in 1956 gives an accurate depiction of the hardships faced by Caribbean migrants in London during this period. Borrow from our e-library.

Homecoming draws on over a hundred first-hand interviews, archival recordings and memoirs by the women and men who came to Britain from the West Indies between the late 1940s and the early 1960s. Together, they reveal a rich tapestry of Caribbean British lives. Borrow from our e-library.

In 1968 Enoch Powell addressed the Conservative Association meeting in Birmingham with his infamous ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech. This inflammatory address further highlighted the racial tensions present in the country perpetuated by a fear of Black majority rule.

Voices of the Windrush Generation is a powerful collection of stories from the men, women and children of the Windrush generation –
a vivid portrait of what it meant for those who left the Caribbean for Britain during the early days of mass migration. Borrow from our e-library.

Windrush in Brent

From the 1950s the borough of Brent became home for many Caribbean migrants. The Caribbean influence on the borough is rich and varied.

Spanning food, fashion, music, sport, entertainment and politics, some of the communities most inspiring leaders and innovators have called Brent home. Amongst them are comedian Sir Lenny Henry, award winning novelist Zadie Smith, footballer Ian Wright, Dawn Butler MP, Boney M singer Elizabeth Rebecca Mitchell, Janet Kay and the legendary Bob Marley and the Wailers.

Display board from the original Brent’s Pioneering Windrush Generation exhibition celebrating Windrush 70.

Explore the legacy and contribution of the Black British Community in Brent in our new online exhibition Windrush 2020 – A celebration of Brent’s Pioneering Windrush Generation.

Legacy and the Future

Amelia Gentleman’s exposé of the Windrush scandal shocked the nation and led to the resignation of Amber Rudd as Home Secretary. Her tenacious reporting revealed how the government’s ‘hostile environment’ immigration policy had led to thousands of law-abiding people being wrongly classified as illegal immigrants. Borrow from our e-library.

The pioneers of the Windrush generation have struggled and persevered to create a space in a country that fought them at every turn. Without their contributions so many aspects of British society would be unrecognisable.

In this vital re-examination of a shared history, historian and broadcaster David Olusoga tells the rich and revealing story of the long relationship between the British Isles and the people of Africa and the Caribbean. Borrow from the e-library.

Unfortunately, the UK Home Office’s Hostile Environment Policy means that the legacy of the Windrush generation is still under threat. Questions from the government regarding the immigration status of the Windrush generation and their families have unfairly resulted in community members loosing their jobs and homes, being denied healthcare and being deported.

While at present the future is uncertain, what is clear is that the UK’s Caribbean diaspora is standing strong, tall and together alongside their many allies – as much a part of British life as the sugar in the bottom of your tea. 

Further reading: Explore Black Live Matters titles available from our e-library

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Refugee Week – 15-21 June

“Aleppo is now like the dead body of a loved one, it has no life, no soul, it is full of rotting blood.”
― Christy Lefteri, The Beekeeper of Aleppo

We live in uncertain times. The climate crisis, political division, rapid technological change and ongoing conflicts around the world mean the future is unclear, not least for people on the move.

This year’s Refugee Week has theme of ‘Imagine’, because when things feel stuck; when the old ways of doing things are no longer working, that’s what we need to do.

You can get involved by holding or taking part in an online Refugee Week event or activity, or doing one of the Refugee Week 2020 Simple Acts.

Imagination and Empathy go hand-in-hand. Put yourself in someone else’s shoes with this collection of books from our e-library celebrating Refugee Week.

The Beekeeper of Aleppo, Christy Lefteri

The unforgettable love story of a mother blinded by loss and her husband who insists on their survival as they undertake the Syrian refugee trail to Europe.

No Ballet Shoes in Syria, Catherine Bruton

Aya is eleven years old and has just arrived in Britain, seeking asylum from war in Syria. When Aya stumbles across a local ballet class, the dance teacher spots her exceptional talent and believes she has the potential to earn a prestigious ballet scholarship. But at the same time, Aya and her family must fight to be allowed to remain in the country.

When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit, Judith Kerr

Partly autobiographical, this internationally acclaimed story by Judith Kerr tells the unforgettable story of a Jewish family fleeing from Germany at the start of the Second World War. Suppose your country began to change. Suppose that without your noticing, it became dangerous for some people to live in Germany any longer. Suppose you found, to your complete surprise, that your own father was one of those people.

Paddington Bear, Michael Bond – available as e- or audiobooks

Michael Bond based Paddington on a lone teddy bear he noticed on a shelf in a London store near Paddington Station on Christmas Eve 1956, which he bought for his wife. But Paddington may have also been inspired by the sight during World War II of Jewish refugee children from Europe, or of London children being evacuated to the countryside.

A Country to Call Home, edited by Lucy Popescu

This anthology of writing focuses on the fate of refugee children and young adults and is aimed at children and adult readers alike. It implores us to build bridges, not walls and is intended as a reminder of our shared humanity, seeking to challenge the negative narratives that so often cloud our view of these vulnerable young people, and prevent us giving them the empathy they deserve.

From a Low and Quiet Sea, Donal Ryan

The refugee. The dreamer. The penitent. From war-torn Syria to small-town Ireland, three men, scarred by all they have loved and lost, are searching for some version of home. Each is drawn towards a powerful reckoning, one that will bring them together in the most unexpected of ways.

The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini – available as an e-graphic novel and audiobook.

Amir and Hassan grow up together in Kabul. Amir in the beautiful house his father built, filled with marble, gold, tapestries and mosaics; Hassan in the modest mud hut in the servants’ quarters. The two are inseparable, and when twelve-year-old Amir is desperate to win the local kite-fighting tournament, his loyal friend promises to help him. But neither boy can predict what will happen to Hassan that afternoon – as the kites soar over the city – and how it will change their lives forever.

Exit West, Mohsin Hamid

In a country teetering on the brink of civil war, two young people meet—sensual, fiercely independent Nadia and gentle, restrained Saeed. They embark on a furtive love affair and are soon cloistered in a premature intimacy by the unrest roiling their city. As the violence escalates, they decide they no longer have a choice. Leaving their homeland and their old lives behind, they find a door and step through.

Boy 87, Ele Fountain

Shif is just an ordinary schoolboy who loves chess and playing with his best friend. But, one day, he is forced to leave home to avoid conscription into the army. He embarks on an epic journey, in which he encounters dangers and cruelties – and great acts of human kindness – as he bravely makes his way to a future he can only imagine.

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Pride 2020 with Brent Libraries

Parades might be postponed for now, but there are lots of other fantastic ways to be Proud this June.

Check out Coming Out, Staying In, Pride In London’s online events listings for digital queer events happening across the year.

Pride provides a platform for every part of London’s LGBT+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, questioning, intersex, non-binary, asexual, polysexual, genderqueer and gender variant) communities to raise awareness of LGBT+ issues and campaign for the freedoms to ensure genuine equality. 

To celebrate Pride, we’ll focus on three differently-themed LGBT+ collections of titles from our e-library, beginning this week with Coming of Age.

Julian Is A Mermaid, Jessica Love

While riding the subway home from the pool with his Abuela one day, Julián notices three women spectacularly dressed up. Their hair billows in brilliant hues, their dresses end in fishtails, and their joy fills the train car. When Julián gets home, daydreaming of the magic he’s seen, all he can think about is dressing up just like the ladies in his own fabulous mermaid costume: But what will Abuela think about how Julián sees himself?

More Than This, Patrick Ness

A boy drowns, desperate and alone in his final moments. He dies. Then he wakes, naked and bruised and thirsty, but alive. How can this be? And what is this strange deserted place?

As he struggles to understand what is happening, the boy dares to hope. Might this not be the end? Might there be more to this life, or perhaps this afterlife?

Girl, Woman, Other, Bernardine Evaristo

Joint Winner of the Man Booker Prize 2019

Girl, Woman, Other follows the lives and struggles of twelve very different characters. Mostly women, black and British, they tell the stories of their families, friends and lovers, across the country and through the years.

The Absolutist, John Boyne

September 1919: twenty-one-year-old Tristan takes a train from London to Norwich to deliver some letters to Marian Bancroft. Tristan fought alongside Marian’s brother Will, but in 1917 Will declared himself a conscientious objector and was shot as a traitor. The letters are not the real reason for Tristan’s visit – he holds a secret deep in his soul, one that he is desperate to unburden himself of to Marian, if he can only find the courage.

Call Me By Your Name, Andre Aciman

The story of a sudden and powerful romance that blossoms between an adolescent boy and a summer guest at his parents’ cliffside mansion on the Italian Riviera. Each is unprepared for the consequences of their attraction, when, during the restless summer weeks, unrelenting currents of obsession, fascination, and desire intensify their passion and test the charged ground between them.

Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit, Jeanette Winterson

This is the story of Jeanette, adopted and brought up by her mother as one of God’s elect. Zealous and passionate, she seems destined for life as a missionary, but then she falls for one of her converts. At sixteen, Jeanette decides to leave the church, her home and her family, for the young woman she loves.

Days without End, Sebastian Barry

John and Thomas have been a couple since their dancing days, but it’s the presence of Winona that gives them a sense of family. Winner of the 2016 Costa Book of the Year Award, a story of migration and massacre; of bravery and brutality; of family, friendship and gender fluidity told in the unique voice of an Irishman in 1850s America.

Boy Meets Boy, David Levithan

To be together with someone for twenty years seems like an eternity. I can’t seem to manage twenty days… How do you stay together? Paul has been gay his whole life and he’s confident about almost everything. He doesn’t have to hide his feelings like best friend Tony or even cope with loving the wrong guy like his other best friend Joni. But heartbreak can happen to anyone. Falling in love changes everything.

This Is Where It Ends, Marieke Nijkamp

Featuring a cast diverse in gender, sexuality and race, this book takes place in an Alabama high school over the course of 54 minutes, switching between four points of view. During a required beginning-of-semester principle’s speech/pep-rally type-thing, a former student locks all the exits of the gym, and then enters and begins shooting.

Lies We Tell Ourselves, Robin Talley

The battle for civil rights is raging. And it’s Sarah’s first day of school as one of the first black students at previously all-white Jefferson High. No one wants Sarah there, least of all Linda, daughter of the town’s most ardent segregationist. Sarah and Linda are supposed to despise each other, but the more time they spend together, the less their differences matter. And both girls start to feel something they’ve never felt before.

Tell Me Again How A Crush Should Feel, Sara Farizan

Leila has made it most of the way through Armstead Academy without having a crush on anyone, which is a relief. As an Iranian-American, she’s different enough; if word got out that Leila liked girls, life would be twice as hard. But when beautiful new girl Saskia shows up, Leila starts to take risks she never thought she would.

George, Alex Gino

When people look at George, they think they see a boy. But she knows she’s not a boy. She knows she’s a girl. George thinks she’ll have to keep this a secret forever. Then her teacher announces that their class play is going to be Charlotte’s Web. George really, really, REALLY wants to play Charlotte.

The Art Of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson

David Piper has always been an outsider. His parents think he’s gay. The school bully thinks he’s a freak. Only his two best friends know the real truth – David wants to be a girl.

Take a look at our LGBT+ ‘Love and Friendship’ and ‘Other Worlds’ collections available from the e-library.

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