Roger Hutchinson Reads From New Book (AGM follows)

Our guest reader for Tuesday, April 25, will be Roger Hutchinson, who will be giving us a glimpse into his new book, The Butcher, The Baker, The Candlestick Maker : The Story of Britain Through It’s Census Since 1801.

Brave Roger. To have taken on the quest to create a cohesive (and interesting) statement about Britain’s census with any number of pages suggests to me 700 milliliters of whisky at 43% and 100 grams of 84% chocolate. What was he smoking?

Thank goodness census records aren’t all numbers. Or at least the digits tell stories that we wouldn’t have without them. With the national census, people began to lose anonymity. We began to find out what the population was, who died and from what, and the numbers became the colour and texture of life–a self-portrait of the British Isles.

For example: Britain in 1801 still had its share of nomadic descendants and the enumerators had to follow them to their haunts: “The numbers living out of houses vary with the seasons; in winter they shrink into dwellings, and in summer they swarm again in the fields, which have irresistible charms for the vagabond race, as well as for their near relatives, the hop-pickers and haymakers. Mixed among them are found some of the victims as well as some of the outcasts of society.” *

In The Butcher, the Baker, the Candlestick Maker, Roger Hutchinson looks at every census taken at the beginning of each decade for 200 years. All human life is here, from prime ministers to peasants and paupers, from Irish rebels to English patriots, from the last native speakers of Cornish to the first professional footballers, from communities of prostitutes to individuals called ‘abecedarians’, who made a living from teaching the alphabet.

Hutchinson is adept at producing books that talk about the people. He has over twenty publications, many of which you will see in every shop that sells books in Scotland, including Calum’s Road; St. Kilda: A People’s History; The Toon; Silent Weaver; and A Waxing Moon: The Modern Gaelic Revival. Because he is a journalist with the West Highland Free Press and a Raasay resident, he is also a local favorite author.

Following Roger’s presentation, we will have refreshments and then have a short AGM meeting to report on 2016, tell you about our programme for 2017-2018 and find out how you’d like to see the Reading Room develop in the future.

The event will be held at Edinbane Community Hall, starting at 7:30 p.m. The lighter evenings should make parking easier, and rumour has it that Edinbane Inn is open Tuesday nights again, for anyone wanting to make an evening it.

Admission is free to members and £5 for non-members. Everyone is welcome. Our reasonable membership is available at every meeting. Reading Room anthologies, Island Life and A Stillness of Mind, are for sale at £8.50 each, and we have a Good Read selection of literary works at prices that will make them jump into your hands.

For further information about the Reading Room, please email us at skyereadingroom@yahoo.co.uk or message us on Facebook, at The Reading Room-Skye.

This event is sponsored in part by Scottish Book Trust.

* Great Britain Historical GIS Project 2004-17. The GBH GIS is a network of collaborating academic researchers. For details please contact Humphrey Southall (Humphrey.Southall@gbhgis.org).

Storybones, Storyskin with Margot Henderson

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Margot’s work requires creativity, resourcefulness and the ability to be with people where and how they are.

The Reading Room presents an evening of poetry and stories by Margot Henderson, who will perform some of her work and share stories of her engaged practice as a Community Artist. She will also hold an afternoon workshop called ‘Words for Well-Being’.

This Scots-Irish poet and storyteller is one of those ‘list people’. You know the type–the ones who make us flush green and cringe and throw half-empty teacups and whisky glasses at walls…the ones who have accomplished such an incredible amount of creative work, it requires much space and headings to organize it all and we are loath to believe a word of it.

With over 30 years of experience in leading Community Arts projects and workshops, Margot was Reader in Residence for Inverness, Storytelling Fellow for Aberdeen and Writer in Residence for the Cromarty Arts Trust. She has led Expressive Writing groups for Maggies Highlands, CLAN and the Highland Hospice  She is a regular workshop leader with LAPIDUS and the WEA in Wellbeing. She also leads Mindfulness workshops and retreats.

The central themes of Margot’s work, which takes place in a huge range of venues, are: encouraging creative self-expression; exploring roots and heritage; deepening connection to self, community and place; and generating a sense of belonging. She has a deep love of nature and a keen sense of our interconnectedness.

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Margot as a Garden Pea in a Pod, ‘Connecting with the Intelligence of Nature’, at a 2008 celebration of Findhorn Community co-founder, Dorothy Maclean.

She has taken part in cross-arts collaborations and has been commissioned by a range of organisations including Scottish Natural Heritage, the Findhorn Foundation, Ballet Rambert, the Barbican Centre and the Tate, to create and perform her work.

Everyone is welcome to join us at Edinbane Community Hall, on Tuesday, February 28, at 7:30 p.m. Admission is free for members and our reasonably priced memberships are available at the door. Non-members: £5. Refreshments will be served.

Write Here

Margot’s Afternoon Workshop will be mainly aimed at carers and people who work in the caring profession. She says, ‘Sometimes we are so busy caring for others that we don’t find it easy to take space for ourselves. This workshop is a chance to take some time to relax and reflect, create and express.

‘We will share some playful and practical writing prompts that can support our own happiness and well-being. These tools can also be helpful in working with others.

‘Writing can be a wonderful way of becoming more present helping us get in touch with and express our feelings. We can resource ourselves through writing in groups, sharing concerns and inspirations, responses and reflections as a way of finding greater meaning and well-being in our lives. It can also be a way of developing empathy and creative imagination. Sharing our writing together can be satisfying and fun.’

The workshop will be held on February 28, 2:30-4:30 p.m., at the Caledonian Hotel, downtown Portree (upstairs from street). Admission is free of charge but please register with us, as space is limited. Message us on Facebook: Reading Room – Skye or email us at skyereadingroom@yahoo.co.uk.

 

‘Two Books and a Song or Two’ and a Farewell to Linda Henderson

The Reading Room will salute the New Year with a literary social event at Edinbane Community Hall on Tuesday, January 31, from 7:30 p.m., during which we also will be bidding adios to our president, Linda Henderson.

At least two Good Reads selected by our panel will be presented for discussion:           Wilma MacRuary’s choice is The Rosie Project, by Graeme Simsion, and Tom Coles has picked The Argonauts, by Maggie Nelson. Check out these books if you want to participate.

We will also hear about Morag Henriksen’s latest book, Tapestry of Scenes–a mix of her short stories and poetry with artwork by herself and her family. Morag will treat us to a song or two during the evening.

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Linda Henderson

The Reading Room has been fortunate in Linda Henderson, who, happily for her, will be moving to the Nairn area in February. She took over as chair of the Reading Room in April, 2014. I remember the evening well, with memorable Reading Room organizer, Richard Neath, handing accolades to another memorable organizer, Charlotte Johnson, who was stepping down from the big chair.

I know Linda must have had to take a big breath before taking that step, because it is a helluva job heading this small but muscular literary group. It can’t be done alone, but if you consider all that must be accomplished by the few dedicated people who do the running, the position of chair is pretty intimidating. Hurrah for Linda’s passion, effort and creative fortitude that were so necessary to sustain the vision.

In her time, the Reading Room has presented about 30 events, including a retreat on Raasay. We also produced our second anthology, edited by Linda. She says, ‘It’s been fun and I’ve met some wonderful writers and welcomed them to Skye from all over Scotland. I’ve been supported by a great team who have never let me down and who have more exciting and fascinating events up their sleeves.’

Linda is going to be concentrating on her own writing, knitting and taking on a new garden as well as looking forward to ‘all the cultural events that the wider Inverness area has to offer’. Best of luck to her in all her endeavors and we hope to see her at future events.

Whatever else we get up to on the 31st will depend on whimsy, so come prepared to contribute to the party. Refreshments will be available and our small collection of used books will be displayed for sale, along with our second anthology, Words from an Island – A Stillness of Mind.

Everyone is welcome to join us. Admission is £5 and free for members (membership available at door).  For more information, please contact us at skyereadingroom@yahoo.co.uk or message us on Facebook: The Reading Room – Skye.

Book Week Scotland Guest Reader Barbara Henderson Writes for Bairns

First of all, I can tell you that Barbara Henderson’s blogged “ride” toward the publication of her first novel, Fir for Luck, is a gas to read and ensures that as our Book Week Scotland guest reader and workshop leader, she will be overflobarbara-henderson-picwing with inspiration and ingenuity.

Fir for Luck, published in 2016 by Cranachan, is a fast-paced historical novel about a feisty 12-year-old girl whose village is threatened and she decides to take action. The novel, based on true events in coastal Sutherland, is a tale of the brutal Highland Clearances. The subject of Barbara’s novel will be likely to get us going, with input from all ages.

Barbara Henderson is a puppeteer and drama teacher and has garnered several awards for her work: Nairn Festival Short Story winner (2012), Ballantral Smugglers Festival Short Story winner (2015), and Pockets Magazine Fiction Contest winnefir-for-luck-picr (2015). She was a 2013 winner of the Creative Scotland Easter Monologue competition, with her work performed in front of an audience several hundred strong, in Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh.

The author is active in her community, doing workshops and organizing. She says, “Inverness used to have a book festival, but it was discontinued years ago. Early this year, before I knew that I would have a publication deal with Cranachan, I put a tweet out: Gutted that Inverness doesn’t have a book festival anymore. Anyone want to help me make this happen again?” After months of perseverance by a dedicated group, the Ness Book Fest has become a reality, as of November 11 – 12, 2016. This is a woman who gets things done.

Our evening of Wednesday (please note different night), November 23, begins at 7:30 p.m., at Edinbane Community Hall. Admission is free and all children and adults are verbws-logos-cmyk-red-2016y welcome.

Refreshments will be served. Look for our Good Reads table, which also holds our latest anthology, Words From an Island: A Stillness of Mind and of course, Fir for Luck. The author will be available for book signing.

Barbara will be leading our Afternoon Workshop: Writing for the Child, Up to Young Adult. On her blog, what she calls “The Ride”, reads like Mr. Toad’s.  The path from the writing, which she loves, to publication (“a wee dip from time to time makes the ride more exciting, right?”), will surely be presented for laughs and tips on the craft. On http://www.write4bairns.wordpress.com,  she blogs on dealing with publishers (More Fun in a Crowd); buying the domain, wrangling with social media, promoting and book covers (Don’t Look Down); rummaging through the clothes pile (The Lull and the Headshot); and book trailer filming (www.youtu.be/q8fHfiIGG7A). In editing, she has “wielded the cattle prod up and down the hill with my heroine” (Roll With It). She adds, “I had somehow missed not one, not two, but three editor’s comments, which were now somehow showing up as part of my text.”

In this workshop, we hope to hear about the rolling terrain of her experience of writing and publishing a children’s book. It will be held on Wednesday, November 23, at the Caledonian Hotel, Wentworth Street, Portree, at 2:30 p.m. Admission is free, but participant number is limited. Please reserve your place (or ask for more info) by emailing skyereadingroom@yahoo.co.uk or contacting us on Facebook at The Reading Room – Skye.

Barbara Henderson’s appearance is funded in part by Book Week Scotland.

 

 

 

Jennifer Morag Henderson Gives Us Josephine Tey

jennifer-m-henderson-picFinally! Josephine Tey fans have been agog since the first biography of the great Golden Age mystery writer was published last year. ‘A book,’ writes Scottish Review’s Andrew Hook,  ‘which, by foregrounding the life and work of a writer who should never have been neglected, deserves the widest readership.’

Jennifer Morag Henderson will present “Talks on the Art of Biography” at the Reading Room’s next meeting, Tuesday, October 25, at Edinbane Community Hall. Henderson, the first biographer of Josephine Tey (Josephine Tey: A Life. Sandstone Press, 2015), has lectured and written extensively about Tey’s life and writing.

“Josephine Tey” was a pen-name of Elizabeth MacKintosh (1896 – 1952). Born in josephine-tey-coverInverness, MacKintosh lived several “lives”. Best known as Golden Age Crime Fiction writer, Josephine Tey, she was also successful novelist and playwright “Gordon Daviot”. Tey’s novels include The Franchise Affair, Brat Farrar, and the unique Richard III mystery The Daughter of Time (once voted the best crime novel of all time). Her work was adapted for radio, TV and film, most notably by Alfred Hitchcock.

Meanwhile, as Gordon Daviot, she wrote smash-hit play Richard of Bordeaux, making a star out of her leading man, John Gielgud. She worked with Laurence Olivier and was friends with many of the stars of London’s 1930s Theatreland. She even wrote for Hollywood – all from her home in the north of Scotland. Tey was a fascinating woman who led a life full of contrasts. Genuinely modest, the magnitude of her achievements, and her significance to Scottish fiction, has not been recognised until now.

Jennifer Morag Henderson has received accolades for her meticulous research of the notoriously private Tey. The sense of the book being a sympathetic labour of love has endeared her to readers, who suggest she might take the neglect of Tey’s achievements personally, as a fellow Invernesian.

Josephine Tey: A life was listed in the Observer’s Best Biographies of 2015; the Independent’s Best Crime (biography) Books of 2015; and The Telegraph’s list of Best Books of 2016. Henderson’s articles, short stories and poems have been published in magazines and anthologies, including Riptide (Two Ravens Press), Northwords Now, The Dalhousie Review, Causeway/Cabhsair, Gutter and by the BBC.

As a playwright, her work has been performed for the National Theatre of Scotland’s Five Minute Theatre project. She edited literary magazine Random Acts of Writing, from 2008 – 2011.

Our evening on October 25 begins at 7:30 p.m. Admission is free to members and £5 non-members. Refreshments will be served.

If you would like to make a night of it, the Edinbane Inn serves dinner in the dining room (reservations needed) and in the pub.

For more info, please contact the Reading Room at skyereadingroom@yahoo.co.uk or message us at The Reading Room – Skye on Facebook.

Trig Point Walks on the Isle of Skye and Raasay

Please join the Reading Room at 10-trig-pointEdinbane Community Hall for an illustrated talk by the authors of Trig Point Walks on the Isle of Skye and Raasay, on Tuesday, September 27.

Ian Stewart and Alistair Christie have written what readers dub ‘a cracking little book’ and ‘simply the best’. The comprehensive walking guide is a wee, pocket-sized gem that includes 56 walks to the best viewpoints on the islands of Skye and Raasay; 26 are ‘family-friendly’.

Keen walkers love to tick off the walks as they follow the routes that have been described with passion by the authors. With the well-drawn writing and photos, Trig Point Walks on the Isle of Skye and Raasay has become a classic for Skye and Raasay walkers and is delightful for arm-chair trekkers.

The authors will have plenty of island tales to tell and no doubt you’ll be able to share your favorite trig point stories with them. The fun starts at 7:30 p.m. Refreshments will be served.

Admission is free for members; £5 at the door for non-members.

Ian and Alistair will be signing books and be sure to check out our little cache of good reads. The Reading Room’s Volume 2 of our ‘Words from an Island’ Anthology Series, A Stillness of Mind, is also available for £8.5.

If you would like to make an evening of it, feel free to join some of us around 6:00 dinner at Edinbane Inn. Reservations are needed, unless you do first come, first served in the pub.

 

For information, please contact us at skyereadingroom@yahoo.co.uk or message us at The Reading Room – Skye on Facebook.

 

 

Zoë Strachan Cancelled.

MANY APOLOGIES. ZOE STRACHAN HAS HAD TO CANCEL, DUE TO EMERGENCY. PLEASE JOIN US ON SEPTEMBER 27 FOR Ian Stewart and Alistair Christie, authors of Trig Point Walks on the Isle of Skye and Raasay. 7.30 p.m. at Edinbane Hall..

The Reading Room presents writer Zoë Strachan on Tuesday, August 30, for an afternoonZoe workshop and evening reading.

In her evening appearance, she will talk about her work, including a sneak-peek at her work-in-progress, and read from her latest novel, Ever Fallen in Love (2011). The story plays with a frenzy of tension, interweaving the tone and pace of young, queer love with the mature hindsight of regret and envy. The novel was Shortlisted for the Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust Scottish Books Awards 2012 and the Green Carnation Prize 2011 and was nominated for the London Book Award 2012 

Her first novel, Negative Space (2002), lauded as a powerful portrayal of grief and healing, was the winner of a 2003 Betty Trask Award and shortlisted for the 2002 Saltire Society Scottish First Book of the Year Award. Her second novel, Spin Cycle (2004), is set in a launderette and tells the story of three of its workers; it is a “murky and dazzling” novel about women in emotional turmoil.

Strachan’s short stories have appeared in magazines and anthologies, and have been broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and 4. She has written many articles and reviews for newspapers, including The Herald, The Scotsman Magazine and The Sunday Times.

Her stage play, Old Girls, opened in Glasgow in 2009. She has also written a stage play, Panic Patterns, with Louise Welsh, performed in Glasgow in 2010. Her short opera, Sublimation, written with composer Nick Fells, was part of Scottish Opera’s Five:15 series in 2010, touring Scotland and also travelling to South Africa.

Zoë teaches on the Creative Writing Programme at the University of Glasgow and lives in Glasgow with her partner, writer Louise Welsh. She is on the Board of Directors of Glasgow Women’s Library; a Patron of the Imprint Festival in East Ayrshire; and a supporter of Scottish Pen.

Afternoon Workshop: Zoë is an established tutor, teaching courses for the Arvon Foundation and Moniack Mhor. A Scottish Book Trust scheme allows her to visit festivals, schools, prisons and community groups, to share her expertise. She is a writer who excels in digging deep into haunted searches and memories, exposing the raw layers of psychology. The detailed exploration in her writing should elicit profound discoveries in our own writing, as she leads this workshop, titled “Writing for a Reaction”. The workshop will be held at Aros in Portree, from 2:00 p.m., (Tuesday, 30 August). £5 members, £10 non-members. Meet in the foyer. Space is limited, so jump to it! Email the Reading Room at skyereadingroom@yahoo.co.uk or message us on Facebook.

Patrons wishing to dine before the reading are welcome to join some of us at the Edinbane Inn, around 6 p.m. Our evening at Edinbane Community Hall begins at 7 p.m. for 7:30. Non-members, £5. Our very reasonable memberships are always available.  Be sure to check out our book table for interesting reads at bargain prices. Copies of our Anthology 2, A Stillness of Mind, may be purchased for £8.50.

Refreshments will be served. Everyone is welcome. For more information, contact us at skyereadingroom@yahoo.co.uk or message us on Facebook (The Reading Room – Skye).